“…hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today”

Zac is a frightened and despised little man. But something compels him to climb a tree, above the crowd to catch a glimpse of Jesus. He could not expect that Jesus would stop beneath the tree, look up into his face and say, ‘Zac, hurry and come down; I want to stay at your house today’! But that’s what happens (Luke 19.1-10).

All of us are prone to living in fear. Fear of being found out. Found wanting, in professional life, social standing, family life… Greatest fear for humankind is invariably about death. We are the animals who know we’re gonna die. No matter how much we strive to shore up our lives, the fact remains that one day we are going to have to let it all go. Our possessions. Our beautiful wife, our children, the homes we’ve made…So we push these fears and the truths they contain away, and we hide, in fond memories of golden past or dreams of the future we think we are saving ourselves, our cherished people or things for. We might hide even in religion, going through the rituals, Sunday after Sunday, perhaps in the week too. But that is useless if it’s just religion. Even if we ignore our fear, we can’t wipe it out. It will rise up somehow. Unconscious mind spills into consciousness and we run. And even when things might seem to be going well, we are never fully happy. We can’t be. Because we are afraid. We are afraid of losing the good time and of what lurks around the next turn in the road.

It is no coincidence that Jesus so often says in our gospels, ‘Don’t be afraid’. But he doesn’t mean hide from your fear. Rather, don’t be ruled by fear. To not be ruled is not to sweep the bad stuff under a mat. It is to look deeply at the fear and to know it for what it is.

Much fear has been generated by the media in the last decade or so about Muslims. It is a pretty straight forward result for many western people therefore to be frightened of what is really a distorted caricature of a deep and peaceful religion.

Syria – Christians being persecuted along with other ethnic minorities – one Christian leader speaks of his/their fear – “The fear is not from my neighbour the Muslim, it is from (foreign extremists) who change relationships between Christians and Muslims. If we are all working for the people of Maaloula to return, it means that we are all, despite the blood, victims and tragedies, able to love and encourage hope in people’s hearts and foster reconciliation and dialogue among all citizens. That would be a victory for the sacred values of faith, for Christians and Muslims.” (Gk Orth Patriarch in Damascus Gregory III Laham)

Gregory has looked deeply at his fear and learned what it is and what it isn’t about. He is still afraid. But in looking deeply, he is able to respond in a way that is life-giving, not life-sapping. Looking into the fear has brought hope.

Jesus looks at you here and now, as you sit in front of  your computer, or with your ‘smart’ phone . He is saying to you, “…hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today”. Let him help you look into your house. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Right now. If it helps, try this.

Focus on your breath. In and out. See yourself here. Breathe. In and out. Watch as Jesus stops and looks into your face. Hear his voice. Breathe in – ‘I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now.’ Breathe out – ‘I am solid. I am free. In God I dwell.’

Do not be afraid. Tangnefedd. Peace be with you.

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~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on November 4, 2013.

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