Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Greatest Threat to Every Human Person

What is the greatest threat today to every person? When I submitted this question to a few intellectual friends, I did not expect the rich answers that I received later from them. To them, I am grateful.

The greatest threat today to every person is his fear of loss in spite of improved communication technology that enables the acquisition of knowledge and social networks that facilitate communication. To counter the possibility of material loss,  the typical citizen in the advanced countries must be  insured for everything from medical insurance all the way to auto insurance if he owns a car, home insurance if he owns a home, power of attorney to ensure someone can speak for him if he becomes too ill to speak, and an optional life insurance to ensure that his money and other assets will go to his named survivors. Writing a will is also required to distribute those assets to the persons named in his will. In the less advanced countries, the law does not protect the person in every material thing. Faith in God helps people to be less fearful.

Probably it is our selfishness that governs our thoughts and actions. It is natural that I love myself, my children, and those who love me. But in Christianity Jesus Christ challenges his followers to love their enemies too as he did and above all to be able to grow in love and trust in God their Father who will give them eternal joy. St. Bernard wrote the four degrees of love (click here) to help the fearful person who loves only himself, find the love of God. If I know that God loves me and has the power to protect me, why would I still have fear of loss?

Yet almost no one that I know is free of this fear of loss. I know people in Canada and America who are afraid to express their opinions on sensitive matters such as fundamentalism for fear that they will expose themselves to lose their jobs for being "politically incorrect" or that they will lose friends who happen to support fundamentalism or that it may cost them retribution by fundamentalists or harassment by their own government which happens to support fundamentalists. Fear of loss extends to every family. Although a father's intentions are to protect his 20-years old daughter from the eyes of "hunting wolves", he is afraid to tell her to dress up decently and mix only with decent minds for fear that she will not come back or speak to him again.  What is wrong with going to a bar and coming home at 5 am in the morning since she thinks she is with friends? This is how shallow family relationships are in some homes.  Many women are afraid of losing their "independence" if they get married. Fear of loss for such intelligent women is magnified by the stories of divorce and hatred that develop because none of the spouses is willing to compromise on little things. They are afraid that becoming a mother may mean the loss of the job that provides income.  I know many baby-boomers who, entering their 60s, fear for their jobs being taken away from them and for their children finding good jobs to sustain their standard of living. This fear is greatest in Europe particularly in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and France unless the person happens to own a large business or have a secure job on-demand in a specialty.    

But all of the above fears are nothing compared to the fear of death.  Let me start by a real story: I know a man who is dying of brain cancer. His doctors advised that surgery is not an option. He is being given a therapy but few hope for his recovery. How can I describe the fear of a person who is left alone to suffer until death? How can I describe the fear of loss of the beloved by his wife and children. I know his family is with him, but how about those single old people?  Who sustains them in their hour of the dark night? Is this the fear that drives old people to church asking for forgiveness? Is this the fear that the death of a beloved causes me to tremble? 

Having a family is now supported by science. After decades of misleading rhetorics by radical feminists, I recently read an article that in 2013 a study published by The Journal of Clinical Oncology shows the importance and enduring benefits of marriage. The support that a spouse gives her husband who was treated of prostate cancer has been shown to be quite a bold charger that extends enjoyable life.  Married couple should always support each other in indissoluble marriage not because they promised so, but because this is the only way to encourage today's miserable young singles.

And today thousands are afraid of being killed in Syria and other lands - On a daily basis many of them are slaughtered like animals although they did not do any evil that merits such a terrible suffering and death. Christians are still threatened in Egypt by extremists whether in their jobs, their future, or their properties. Is not this like the massacres of the Nazi in World War II? Yet, Europe's political elites of France and Britain whose parents suffered in WWII, together with the American government, support the extremists carrying out massacres in Syria. Who can save the victims? "Maran Ata" or "Come Lord" says an early hymn by Christians recorded in Apocalypse. This is also our prayer for the dying because He knows our weakness and his compassionate mercy is abundant. When Pope Francis visits Jerusalem in May let us tell him through our Catholic leaders there how his assistance is much needed, not only in prayers which he certainly offers every day, but also in the redistribution of the world-wide Church assets/funds that would redirect some of them to alleviating the fear of Christian and non-Christian victims/families of the Middle East.

But our deepest hope remains in the One who really conquered fear, accepted humiliation and physical torture, and in trust committed his soul to his Father on the cross and rose from the dead. This is the hope that transcends our natural limitation because it is a gift from God. Those who in good conscience take the risk to love without measure or expectation of reward and open themselves to the promptings of the Spirit for repentance, will find  him and in him they will find eternal newness and joy.  In Apocalypse, the last written canonical book of the Bible, the glorified Christ says "Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5) 

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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