[Intro by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP] – Last Friday as we celebrated the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sr. Barbara Catalano, OP, reminded us how David, before he was anointed king, defended his sheep from dangerous predators risking his own life to face down both bear and lion. In the gospel for that day, Jesus reveals God’s “Shepherd Heart” that will not rest until the lost have been found and restored to safety – no matter what it takes. In the following blog Associate Carol Lemelin invites us to allow this aspect of God to transform our personal lives:
Some time ago Fear of the Lord was considered a virtue. When I was in grade school, second grade actually, I first heard of fearing God. I was terrified of God. I thought God must be very mean. It was not proper to doubt what Sister said, so I never told anyone what I thought. As I grew up and began to learn about Jesus and what Jesus said about his Abba father, I knew I was on the right track. Fear does not engender love. Ask the family of an abuser. If you look up the phrase on the internet, you will find all kinds of rationale for the phrase. The fact remains that is what the words say. Now I know that even when we fail, God loves us and wants us to love him back.
In his book The Shack Revisited, C. Baxter Kruger recounts the beautiful scene in The Shack when Papa (aka, God the Father) steps out on the porch and joyously calls out “Mackenzie Allen Phillips!” and wraps Mac in a bear hug, which conveys all the love God has for him. The author points out that in the story of the Prodigal Son, the boy’s father, also God the Father, does the same thing. This story was told to us by Jesus himself and thus verifies that rather than fear God, we should believe in and acknowledge God’s love. God’s forgiveness is quick and absolute.
Imagine if everyone knew and believed that God loves each one of us individually and as intimately as any parent, how the world would explode with joy. The Big Bang would be the merest whisper by comparison.