|Lluís Borrassà, St Peter's Altar (15 c)|
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)While we shouldn't presume our own merit, we also shouldn't fear what God has in store for us. Our fears of punishment from God often betray a lack of confidence in God, or a lack of confidence in our own love. But when we truly remain in love, we remain in God (1 John 4:16), and we have no need of fear.
Paul offers us three theological virtues: faith, hope and love; not scrupulosity, fear and self-loathing. Let yourself love God and neighbor freely, and take some time to explore where your life is rooted. Do you act morally out of fear of punishment? Or do you act out of love in all things? Where do you remain?
Loving perfectly can seem like no easy task, but in reality it is no task at all, since Jesus has already completed the task for us. By offering of himself and His Spirit, he has made it possible for us to exist in love, rather than making an effort to love. By acknowledging that he is the Son of God, we allow him to remain in us and root our lives in love (1 John 4:15).
It can be hard to hear this simple message of hope through the noise of the everyday. We can allow ourselves to stray from love and move into fear when we get distracted by judging other people or by the judgments of other people, or by the well-meant, but sometimes misguided urgings of our friends and neighbors.
Today, take a moment to speak to God in prayer and examine where you remain. God can help you tune out the complicated messages of the world, and turn up the simple message of the gospel: do not be afraid! (Mark 6:50b)