Perfect love drives out fear

Pencil Preaching for Wednesday, January 8, 2029

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).

1 John 4:11-18; Matt 6; 45-52

The Gospels are proclamations of the kerygma, a Greek word encompassing the joyful cry of the first preachers in early church that salvation has come through Jesus Christ. The written texts that followed summarize this “Good News” in richly layered narratives of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus backlit with prophecies, events and images from Hebrew history fulfilled in him.

We read Matthew’s story of the miraculous feeding of the crowd and recognize Jesus as the new Moses calling down manna in the desert as a foreshadowing of the mystery of the Eucharist.  We see in the stormy crossing of Sea of Galilee an image of the Exodus to freedom and a demonstration of the power of the risen life that Jesus, the Bread of Life, gives us. The Good News is that the early church was experiencing the presence of the risen Jesus as it made passage from death to life through the storms of history, already transcending its dangers with courage and faith because sin and death have been overcome.

As primarily theological testimonies, the Gospels exceed historical or biographical records because they are not about the past but about the present. God’s inbreaking into history is a timeless now. It is our call to participate in the redemption of the world by sharing in the pattern of Jesus’ selfless love and fearless confrontation with the forces of deceit, illusion, violence and self-interest that seek to block the emergence of the Beloved Community, God’s plan for humanity. We are disciples of the Beatitudes, suffering but already projecting a future in which meekness, purity of heart, mercy, compassion, peace and justice overcome fear and despair with love and hope. 

To believe this Gospel, not just as a vision or promise, but as the operating principle of our attitudes and activities, is to sing the song of Love we find in John’s letters to the churches: “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in them. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).

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