Of that yes, we must be afraid
“Jesus is the Lord, and before Him physical death is like sleep: there is no reason to despair. A different [thing] is the death to be afraid of: that of the heart hardened by evil! Of that yes, we must be afraid!” the pope said July 1. “It is the death of the heart.”—Pope Francis
There are people who have a strong reaction when it comes to the concept of ‘sin’. Understandable, because it can be used to instill the wrong kind of guilt. The concept of sin, in actuality, gives us dignity. It says that in order to ‘sin’, one has to go against one’s conscience or to be involved in a way of life, or actions, that over time will slowly harden the heart, and lead to a death of inner life. We become slaves to sin, trapped in cycles of pain and alienation from self, others, and worse, from God. Yet, only God sees the inner life of each of us, so it is a waste of time judging another human being on this level. We are commanded not to, because of the self-wounding that comes from this.
What we choose is important, for each choice has an effect on the heart, and soul, of each of us. To treat another human being hateful is common, yet it is a tragedy for the one who hates…..it poisons the soul to death.
Jesus said that we can judge a tree by its fruit. I am guessing that he meant that a good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree, rotten fruit, in other words, we are either life-giving, or we take. A loving heart is not an accident but comes from making many choices to fight against choosing what leads to darkness. Yet many do not fear this. It matters not if someone says that they do not believe in sin. They still choose each day, what road they will travel down. We are either moving forwards towards the light, God, and as a Christian, I will say Jesus Christ, or by our choices, we will move away from that. We choose. We are responsible before God for our lives.
We are called to give our ‘Yes’ to grace, to working against the inertia that wishes to draw us down into bitterness and despair. It is easy to go this route, because it is based on fear, a desire to close oneself off from others, and it does have bitter fruit. To work against that bitterness and despair, does truly take a death to self that Jesus talks about.
Jesus came to show us a better way. He loved, no matter what happened to him. He did not withdraw back into fear, and bitterness, or, self-pity. That is something that I fight against, it is a ploy to escape the pain of others, but in the end, only leads to a coldness of heart that is worse. However, I am called to have an open heart, to say yes to the path of love, and no, to the path of ever-growing self-absorption that leads, or could lead, to permanent isolation.
There is hope for everyone, for God is love, who sees us as we truly are, yet died for us, never letting go of love, defeating the darkness of hatred, despair, bitterness, and self-pity. So I hope that all will find the inner fire that is God’s love, and reach out, it is never too late……mercy is like that, it is freely given, to all, even if undeserved, otherwise, it would not be a grace. Mercy is a healing fire, going ever deeper into the soul. A sword that opens up our wounds so that they can be healed, it destroys fear, melts hatred, and only seeks our inner healing.--Br.MD