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Wednesday after Epiphany, 08-01-19

1 John 4:11-18 / Mark 6:45-52
*Love casts out fear: Have courage on judgment day.*

Ethel Waters was a famous black singer. Her heart was as big as her body. In her last interview before she died, she said:

“I’m not afraid to die, honey. . . .I know the Lord has his arms wrapped around this big, fat sparrow.” Ethel Waters loved much, and so the biblical revelation, “God is love,” came quite natural for her. And if God is love, there is nothing to fear when death comes, especially for one who spent her life loving.
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How do we picture God? Is our image of God one of love or of fear? “He prayeth best who loveth best All things great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
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There are two ways that we can look at life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle (Albert Einstein). But why is it that some see nothing as a miracle while others see everything as a miracle?  The 1st reading will give us some indication of where the difference lies. "No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and His love will be complete in us".  Now isn't that a great miracle? As long as we love one another God will live in us! It is certainly a miracle that God would want to make His dwelling in weak and mortal humanity.  But that's the miracle of love. Love makes all things possible and love sees everything as a miracle and love would also see where God is.  In the gospel,  we heard that when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, they thought it was a ghost and they cried out and they were terrified.  As the last line of the gospel puts it - because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed.  In other words, the disciples had not understood the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves was an expression of the love of God.  Probably up till then, they were still not loving one another and hence there is fear instead of love.  In the Eucharist, we receive God's love in Holy Communion. May we love one another, then we will see that everything is a miracle.
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*LITURGY*

Wednesday After Epiphany

 LOVE AND FEAR 

Introduction
The weekdays of the Christmas-Epiphany season continue day after day to confront us with the person of Jesus. This child and our brother is God, and yet, this Son of God is fully human. This man Jesus manifests his divine power – in today’s gospel, by walking on the waters of the lake, with water a figure of death and the power of evil, which he overcame. His coming among people is God’s work of love; hence, the readings in this season are taken from John’s first letter, the core theme of which is love. Both today’s readings bring out another contrast: love and fear. We have nothing to fear, not because we are without sin but because God loves us as we are, on account of Jesus. The apostles are still afraid, because they do not really know yet who Jesus is, the one who overcame evil and death, and therefore all fears. 

Opening Prayer
Lord God, loving Father, fear runs in our blood. We are often afraid of facing the future, of committing ourselves to one another, even of trusting ourselves, our emotions, and the forces slumbering within us. Convince us that there is nothing to fear and that you love us as we are, for you are our Father and you have given us your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Commentary
Of the various difficulties present in modern society, one of the most prevalent is the fear of commitment. Engagement in an enterprise that will last a lifetime is very threatening. This is certainly true of marriage as well as other lifelong engagements. When the idea of lifetime commitment is presented, the response all too frequently is, “You mean, until I die?”
Our first reading today tells us that Christian love, when perfected, casts out all fear, and that includes the fear of failure as well. Today’s Gospel finds the apostles still weak in faith and thus frightened and uncomprehending. They had witnessed the miracle of the loaves but were still lacking in understanding. Jesus now appears to them walking on the water of the lake, enters the boat, and allays their fears.
There is no denying that an atmosphere of fear is present in modern society. Antisocial behavior is all too common. People are afraid to be on the street at night. We teach our children at an early age to beware of strangers. The circumstances wherein we divulge a credit card number are very few, and never our Social Security number. The reasons for this are not unreasonable. Crime, unfortunately, is a fact of life today. Yet we cannot deny the fact that we are surrounded by many good and trustworthy people. There are times when we must step out in faith, even when the outcome is not certain. Where faith is strong, and accompanied by love, fear is cast out.
We must be clear. To give one’s fife for a worthy cause, as an act of love, banishes fear. The letter of John summarizes it well today. “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”

Points to Ponder
Weak faith and fear
Strong love and courage
The witness of a lasting marriage.

Intercessions
– For the Church of Jesus Christ, that its faith and love may not waver in the difficulties and storms of our time, we pray:
– For those who doubt their faith and are afraid of facing the future, that God may give them courage and that we may refresh their hope, we pray:
– For our Christian communities, that we may all grow together in trusting faith in Jesus our Lord, and that his love may move us to live for one another, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord God, loving Father, in this bread and this wine we place all our trust in you. Give us your Son to brave with us the waves and the storms of life. We are sure that with him we are capable of more than we dare imagine or hope for. Help us to grow day after day in trusting faith in you through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord God, loving Father, you have shown us your power and love in Jesus Christ, your Son and the Son of Mary, one of ours.
In him you have given us a sample of what we and the world could become if we took the risk of entrusting ourselves to him
and of living as he lived. God, let your Son stay with us, that we may become like him and that no fear may mar our trust and love, for we know that you love us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessing
“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” That is what Jesus tells each of us when we are facing difficulties. He is with us. May God give us strength and trust and bless us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.