Aloha Friday Message – April 17, 2020 – Fear and Peace

Blesséd be God forever!~!

2016AFC041720 – Fear and Peace

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Hope Peace Joy Love

John 20:26-29 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Are you afraid? Do you think maybe COVID-19 VIRUS is “after you?” Do you believe? Do you doubt? Do you know? WE ARE AT WAR!

We need to put on the Full Armor of God! You can find this passage by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18. God willing, there will be a four-part series on that at Catholic 365 – perhaps sometime in May. Meanwhile, we have hundreds of people on TV, on YouTube, in pulpits, on radio, on Facebook & Instagram & Twitter & TikTok & Pinterest & Snapchat, and even in our own homes telling us “We can get through this together” or “Together we can do this.” But ʻŌmea, it’s not just you and me, is it? God has to be part of that team, or nothing will come of our efforts. We have to do our part.

To illustrate what I mean, I want to take a fast trip back to the end of Israel’s 40 years of wandering. You’ll find this account in Exodus 17:8-13. Moses has sent Joshua to repel the invasion of the Amalakites (their leader was Amalek). When Moses held up the Staff of Power God had given him, the battle went in Israel’s favor; when he got tired and he lowered his arms, the battle went to Amalek’s favor. That day Moses showed the virtue of Perseverance (← Check it out!); he had some help. His brother, Aaron, and his trusted assistant, Hur, found a rock for him to sit on (gave him rest) and supported his arms (shared their strength). At the end of the day, Amalek was utterly destroyed. They got through that together. We need to do the same thing: Persevere, give rest to the weary, and share our strength with the heroic. At the end of the day, at the end of the present struggle, the enemy – which is unseen, pervasive, and incredibly dangerous – can be utterly defeated. We have that hope because we know, and love, the Lord. I remember what the Apostle Peter said, in 1 Peter 1:8-9 Although you have not see him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Shortly after his resurrection, the evening of the first day of the week, Jesus went to the Cenacle – the upper room – and met with his Apostles (although Thomas was not present) . The first thing he did was pronounce Peace upon them. Next he showed them his wounds. As they rejoiced in their realization that it was indeed Jesus and that he was truly ALIVE, he commissioned them to spread the Gospel and breathed the Holy Spirit on them so that they could forgive or retain the sins of others. Today’s Key Verse happens a week later, again on the first day of the week, and this time Thomas also got to see Jesus. His proclamation became part of our Liturgy: “My Lord and my God.” We cannot see Jesus today, he’s not on TV or any of the social media we mentioned, but we know he is here; and we know he will help us get through this together.

There is a popular meme that helps explain this. Do you remember the episode in the Gospel when Jesus was casually strolling across the Sea of Galilee during a storm? He met the Disciples about halfway across, maybe four miles out over the water, and scared them worse than the storm; they thought he was a ghost! Matthew 14:25-27 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” ἐγώ εἰμί → egō eimi → I AM = it is I. Here is another account of this extraordinary moment: John 6:16-21 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, “It is I [ἐγώ εἰμί → egō eimi → I AM] do not be afraid.” 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. Our enemy cannot swim either.

Even in these rough waters with COVID-19 VIRUS dominating every waking moment (and perhaps for some of us even more than that), we know that the Lord is with us, and we know we can turn to him. We must be willing to persevere. We must be prudent. We must be courageous and trample down fear. In short, we must handle this as a matter of Faith – with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Do we need to put our finger in the nail-prints and touch the wound in his side? Or do we say with Isaiah that we know God has it covered? Isaiah 12:2 Surely God is my salvation;  I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

Jesus stands among us and says, “It is I.” Should we, can we, will we hear and believe? “Peace be with you” is not the same as “be not afraid.” We are afraid when we let loose of Peace and embrace fear; fear displaces Peace. When Jesus tells us not to be afraid – and “fear not” in some form or other is in the Bible hundreds of times! – we can be open to Peace. Peace is a gift of Grace, and like all Good Gifts, it comes from God; like all Good Gifts, we can accept it or refuse it. I choose to accept it. There are some in the World who cannot accept this gift from God because they cannot accept God! “What’s God got to do with it? How can he do this to us, to me! What kind of God does something this terrible to the whole World?” The answer is simple: The God of Mercy. (See The Mercy Series) The God who gives us HIS mercy, HIS Peace, so that we can and will Persevere.

“Persevere” is one of those interesting words that we hear often, usually in the context of difficulties impeding our efforts. We have other ways to say the same thing – Stay the course, keep on track, persist always, keep going, never give in, don’t take no for an answer, stand your ground, go the distance, leave no stone unturned, eyes on the prize, stick to your guns, and these days the ever-popular “hang in there.” All of these carry with them the implication that we will continue to pursue a goal or path under arduous circumstances regardless of any opposition, danger, difficulty, or doubt. For those who deem themselves “self-reliant,” this is a formidable challenge. For those who know the power of Scripture and prayer – especially prayer in and through Scripture – this is almost second-nature because we remember that God speaks to us through his word and listens to us through our prayers. We have learned to use what we know.

Those who refuse God’s Good Gifts set up idols in place of him, and of course, those are of no help whatsoever: Jeremiah 10:5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor is it in them to do good. OUR help is in the name of the Lord who made Heaven and Earth – and all us pesky little Earthlings, too! And to we who are the weak and faithless, he says Isaiah 41:13 13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you. That’s not very popular among those more Worldly Earthlings who favor the murder of innocents, and proliferation of poverty, and the abuse of privilege. They trust in going along with others who choose to oppose God and his servants – they chose to do what is unjust because it suits their warped self-esteem. There is a word in the Word for them, too: Exodus 23:2 You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice; God still offers them the Grace, the Good Gift, of Mercy – and they spurn it.

But what of those who do not spurn God’s Good Gifts? We have a remarkable mass of promises in the Word that assure us we can count on God’s Mercy and enjoy the fruits of his loving kindness. Here’s one: Proverbs 10:16 16 The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin. Contemporary English Version (CEV) – 16 If you live right, the reward is a good life; if you are evil, all you have is sin. “If you are evil, all you have is sin.” Righteousness leads to life. Sin leads to death. Are all the people who are dying from this COVID-19 VIRUS sinners? Yes, because every Earthling is a sinner. Are they dying because they are sinners and God is punishing us? NO! God is giving us a “Reset.” We’re getting a “Do-Over.” Instead of overdoing, we need to back up, check the horizon for our goal, and lay in a course for Freedom in Eternity. Then, as we persevere, everything else we do will be blessed: Proverbs 3:24-25 24 If you sit down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked. We will get through this if we rest in the arms of our saving God – Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. (↔ Music Link) We are at war, but we know Peace, so it’s not War and Peace or even Fear and Peace; it is God’s Peace beyond all understanding. (See Philippians 4:7) We will not only persevere  we will prevail!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever

— at your service, Belovéd!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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