Some instructions to us Christians are harder to follow than others. Today I am thinking of the many times we hear “Do not be afraid.” We are often beset by fear and can carry around a low grade anxiety with us for days. This is why at mass we pray to be protected from anxiety. These are anxious days as the country waits for election results. I hear so many anxious voices as worries about tomorrow are expressed. After all, we want a government that is going to advance justice, peace, and compassion for others in our society and not a government that will perpetuate injustice, foster discord, and act without compassion or mercy. Many see the outcome of this election as determining the direction of our country for years to come.
What is a Christian to do with their fear and anxiety? I suggest we need to take time to stop brooding over all that could go wrong, over all that has gone wrong already, and be still at least for a moment. Acknowledge the fear and acknowledge the anxiety, then let it go into God’s loving care. We hear the advice — breathe — and this is good advice as far as it goes. Take this a step further and be still and know God’s love. There is no need to put words on anything, just be still and know. In the same way that parents can comfort their children and chase away their fears, God can comfort us, if we allow it.
Then, remember that Christianity is not a “God and me” religion. It is a new way of life lived in communion with others in Christ. Christianity is not a private venture meant to be kept in a private place. To be Christian is to be in communion with the Body of Christ. We are branches of the one true vine, fragments of the one Bread of Life, parts of the Body of Christ. We are called to a unique way of life in community.
Community, especially in the form of Christian communities, is what gives us the power to take on the trials and troubles of our world. We are not expected to take on the troubles of our nation or of our neighborhoods on our own. In fact, we cannot take care of anything as well on our own as we can when we come together. A community, united in its love, compassion, and caring can make all the difference.
We are not meant to be alone and to take on the big stuff on our own. It is as we come together we can do the impossible. It is our togetherness that makes it possible to fulfill God’s will on earth. Together we can do much more than we can imagine, especially if we engage with society and support governments that will do things in God’s way of compassion and love. Governments, by the way, do not have to be Christian or profess any kind of faith. Governments do not have to know or acknowledge God. That is not government’s role. But whenever we find that our civic servants are doing things in God’s way of love, let’s encourage, support, and praise them. In this way we will encourage God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
So, be still and know God’s love for you, my beloved ones, and do not neglect to gather with your community. And with Julian of Norwich remember that all will be well.
Like branches on a single vine those who follow Christ share in one heart, one mind. The sap of life flowing through the vine brings communion of life. The burden of the vine is love each branch a channel of love's gift feeding a starving world. Connected to the vine, each branch bears fruit enough for all.