“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified.” “Easier said than done,” you might say! We are surrounded by “wars and insurrections.”
Terrified civilians flee enemy bombs, taking only what they can carry. “Nation will rise against nation.” American men and women in uniform are moved around on the chessboard of the Middle East, fighting terrorists and protecting oil interests. And under all this is heard the drumbeat of cartel violence on our southern border while politicians predict dire consequences if their opponents are elected to public office. It is a time of increasing chaos and fear. “How are we to secure our lives?” we ask. “How are we to persevere?”
And our sense of chaos is not limited to politics. As individuals, too, we are terrified – terrified of what will happen if our fields flood or if we or someone we love is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Wildfires destroy homes and displace thousands of people in California and we pray with fingers crossed that nothing like that will happen where we live. But even as power companies impose regional blackouts in an attempt to control future fires, internet bloggers make dire predictions about the negative effects of developing alternate sources of electricity. “How are we to persevere?”
This Sunday’s readings paint a picture of a world in chaos. But they also point to hope. None of us knows when disaster will strike, when our house will burn, when a loved one might be killed defending our country. Terrified of the unknown we lock our doors and close our windows hoping that, in the midst of such chaos, we will survive. Terrified of the unknown we ask, “How are we to secure our lives?” We find the answer in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus assures us that if we persevere in faith we will not be destroyed.
But where are we to put our faith? What are we to do when we feel like we just can’t go on? Do we trust in the “sun of justice?” Or do we remain caught in the darkness of despair?
Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.