We are afraid of so many things that we should not fear. Piercing the truth that flows from Jesus’ death and resurrection, Saint Paul had a fear-shattering insight. In Romans 8:35-37 he wrote, “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The death and resurrection of Jesus empowers us to not be afraid of any of these things that do - or could - happen to us in this brief life.
Yet, there is something that we should fear. We should fear that which has the power to separate us from God. What is it? In Matthew 10:28, Jesus tells us, “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Jesus is saying that we should fear the pride which leads to damnation. Pride was at the heart of the fall of the angels as well as humanity. We should fear the pride which says, “I will not serve! I do not need God! I do not need or want to be forgiven for my sins! I have not sinned! I will not forgive! It is all God’s fault! I want my will!” The many voices of pride go on and on…
Pride in all its many varied forms is the direction towards damnation, the seed of separation from God for all eternity. With the help of God’s grace we are able to perceive the presence of pride. So, let us pray for an ever better formed conscience, a conscience formed by the truth. Then let your well formed conscience guide you like a compass away from pride toward humility.
God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York