Bishop Blair: "Fear is Useless; What is Needed is Trust"
Bishop of Toledo Leonard Blair writes in the April 2009 issue of The Catholic Chronicle:
‘Fear is useless; what is needed is trust’
Written by Bishop Leonard P. Blair
Friday, 03 April 2009
... The Paschal Mystery remains what it has always been — an invitation to conquer sin and death by uniting ourselves through faith to Jesus Christ crucified and risen.
The Passion reads like a catalog of human horrors. Jesus experiences betrayal, total abandonment by His own, malicious distortions of His words and works, false accusations, the perversion of justice, beatings, spitting, scourging, mockery, stripping and one of the most cruel forms of execution ever devised — crucifixion. And He says, "Come follow Me!" Only faith can make so great a leap as to follow a crucified God.
The human heart recoils at the prospect of enduring even a small part of the cross. We all yearn for a quiet and peaceful life, free of illness, material want, danger, turmoil and misfortune. This is normal. It is good. It is our yearning for the way God created us to be before sin and death entered the world. Original sin, however, and the multiplication of sin, have brought us a long way from Paradise.
In the Paschal Mystery, the Most Holy Trinity is fully revealed as a God of total self-giving love. The Father gives His Son for us. The Son gives His all for us. And the Holy Spirit is the gift that unites us to the divine love. Self-sacrificing love unto death, even death on the cross, is the only path to redemption, to resurrection and life. It is the only way out of human misery, the only answer to the longings of the human heart.
As the Paschal Mystery is celebrated in this year of our Lord 2009, fear looms large over much of our country and the world.
There is grave economic fear. Our hearts — and our help as neighbor to neighbor — go out to families and individuals who are struggling with job losses, foreclosures and serious setbacks to their hopes and plans.
The economy is not the only reason for fear in today’s world.
On Holy Thursday we will commemorate the Last Supper. Listen again to what Jesus tells the apostles and their successors in the church: "In the world you will have suffering, you will have trouble. ... If the world persecuted Me, it will also persecute you ... If they have followed My teaching, they will follow yours. The reason the world hates you is because you do not belong to the world ..." (cf. Jn 15-16)
As Christian teaching about human life and sexuality come under increasing attack, we can expect an ever more powerful and concerted effort to intimidate, silence and even dismantle the Catholic Church in the United States. Religious freedom, conscience clauses, respect for churches to organize themselves according to their beliefs — all these things are currently being called into question. One has only to look at the recent legislative attempt in Connecticut to impose a "restructuring" of Catholic parishes in civil law. As a state senator there said: "The real purpose of this bill is payback to the bishops and pastors of the Roman Catholic Church in Connecticut for opposing gay marriage."
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