This Sunday's Gospel reading contains two words that stick out for me: "fear" and "peace." As Catholics, we are living in a society that seems to be more and more secularized, even intolerant, by the minute. Some might say that it is increasingly more difficult to openly practice our religious beliefs. In a sense, many of us are closing those doors to our faith; living and practicing in fear of what others might think, say or do if we are suspected of being ...tan, tan, tan...(scary, dramatic horror music)...PRACTICING CATHOLICS! :) "Is anyone watching me as I pray before eating at a restaurant? I am posting every move I make on my Facebook, except when it comes to hinting I go to Mass on Sunday (or more than once a week)."
I have heard two sides of the argument, both of which can be defended within Scripture... 1) Practice your faith between you and God, so as to avoid boasting, impressing others, etc. 2) Don't hide a light under a basket. (Don't keep Jesus to yourself). Although finding our path in reference to this issue is a personal journey, I find this to be my guiding question: Whether I make my faith a personal matter or a public one...What is at the root of my decision? If my answer to this question is "fear"... I might need to reflect on my current path and head in a different direction. We do have the Body of Christ (the Church) to which we belong to, so we are not solitary beings on this path of faith. Fear of persecution should not limit the public expression of my beliefs.
However, if I practice my faith in order to gain the approval of this or that group of believers...it is no longer genuine. For me, this is where "peace" is actualized. We tend to think peace is a state in which nothing sad or difficult is happening. True peace in Jesus Christ can be experienced in the midst of any situation. A person in a quiet, serene garden may be experiencing turmoil and chaos within. Just as a person in the middle of a hurricane can experience peace while chaos is happening around them. We have to believe enough to open the doors to our hearts so that Jesus may enter and settle both our fears and our doubts. I pray we are capable of experiencing that peace whether we are sitting quietly at Eucharistic Adoration or chanting at a religious freedom rally.
Our Lady of the Assumption, Claremont