Saturday after Ash Wednesday
God calls us to leave fear behind.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Isaiah 58: 9b-12
In these times of change and division, there are constant calls to us to live in and act out of fear. Fear that needy people will come and take jobs and other resources away from us and ours. Fear that people fleeing violence and war will bring war and violence into our midst. Fear that people who disagree with us threaten collapse of order and chaos. Fear is the constant predominant keynote of current political discourse.
Living in and acting out of fear leads us to anger, hatred, selfish hoarding of what we have, lack of sympathy for and rejection of those who have less, whether money, power, safety, or social approval. Fear makes the walls close in around us, tears down bridges between people and nations, and creates a suspicious, unloving attitude toward the world. Giving in to fear is sin. Living in fear is not an acceptable option for a faithful Christian. Fear, not doubt, is the true opposite of faith. Fear is a lack of trust in God.
Isaiah communicates God’s call to us to leave fear behind and to dare to live out of love, despite the apparent risks. God assures us that if we let go of suspicion and condemnation, if we accept the hungry and oppressed as our beloved sisters and brothers and provide for their needs, God will provide for us with joyful abundance. We need to trust in God and take the risks of love in order to flourish and prosper. If we do so, we will not only live in God’s gracious abundance, but we will be a light and guide to the rest of the world to do the same.
This Lent, heed the call to live without fear, to take the risks of love, and to care for all in need as you would care for any member of your family.
School of Law