A basic need of the human person is to feel safe. In a world filled with reports of terrorist attacks and violent crime, feeling safe is increasingly difficult. We long for some reassurance that we are protected. With new acts of terror come more procedures, policies or laws designed to minimize the possibility of future attacks. As effective as these might be, there is no guarantee of absolute safety.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus the Good Shepherd says that no one can snatch one of his sheep from his Father’s hand (John 10:27-30). This means that as his followers, we have God’s protection. This protection does not promise an end to terrorist attacks or other actions that cause harm. It does mean that the suffering caused by them does not have to get the best of us. Trusting in God’s protection when we are the most vulnerable can inspire us to do what we can to build a world that is trustworthy and safe. When faced personally with the temptation to inflict hurt we can call upon God’s grace to protect us from ourselves. If we do wrong, God’s protection is still there to offer us forgiveness, saving us from being destroyed by our own sinfulness.
Perhaps the best way to call upon and trust God’s protection is to be protectors ourselves. Protectors of our children who are influenced by social media and entertainment that enshrines fame, wealth and reckless pleasure. Protectors of those whose good names are being smeared. Protectors of our Catholic values of upholding the dignity of the human person, having a preferential option for the poor and working toward economic justice for all. Protecting the most vulnerable among us who because of physical, psychological or financial circumstances are the prey of those trying to take advantage of them. Protectors of our Gospel convictions that will not tolerate committing one inhumane act in exchange for another. Protectors of ourselves when tempted to do wrong and saying no.
The Book of Revelation promises us that God will wipe every tear from our eyes, including our tears of terror and fear (Revelation 7:9-17). With trust in God’s protection and by our efforts to be protectors, we become instruments of wiping away humanity’s tears.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector