Casting Out Fear

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 — Week of 3 Easter

Mary (Molly) Brant (Konwatsijayenni)

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 960)

Psalms 26, 28 (morning) // 36, 39 (evening)

Daniel 4:28-37

1 John 4:7-21

Luke 4:31-37

What a lyrical and compelling reading we have today from the first epistle of John. This passage is among my favorites in all of scripture. Nearly everyone has some Bible verses they treasure, the ones they know “by heart” — the kind of words that ring with such clarity and truth that even the most skeptical interpreter becomes a literalist. One of my favorites is “perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18b)

The message and spirit of today’s reading seems timely in the wake of the shocking bombing yesterday at the Boston Marathon. Such cruel acts intend to sow fear and to invite hate. If we are to be helpful in responding to this kind of evil, we will need embrace another way. We will need to let perfect love cast out our fear so that we can confront evil with a greater power.

God is love, John tells us. And God’s love is perfect love. God manifests perfect love by pouring out the divine life into the incarnation of Jesus as God’s Son. Jesus wraps up all that is human, including our evil and betrayal, and accepts our complete humanity with perfect love. Sin is overcome by God’s divine love through the life and resurrection of Jesus.

How much does God love us? Look at the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross. Jesus shares our human life and absorbs all our evil and violence. He returns only love, and he overcomes our darkness with his light. He forgives. He raises all into new life. He exercises the power of absolute love.

Since God is love, we can be fearless. God’s love is stronger than all rebellion and evil. God’s love is stronger than our fear and our consciences. If God is inclined toward us with perfect love, there is nothing that can separate us from God, even to the point of our murder of God’s son.

The nature of the universe is love. Whatever fears we have ever had can be released into love. Whatever anger, insecurity or guilt we may carry is absorbed and healed by the infinite love of God. It’s all over. God loves us. That’s that.

We are invited to live in that spirit — to accept God’s love for us. Abide in love, says John. We are perfectly loved. Live from that energy. If we can do that, we can be fearless. And we can love others. Why not? They can’t do anything to us that might be ultimately threatening. If they try, even unto crucifixion, God’s love is stronger.

And they too are the objects and recipients of God’s love. So, we can learn to love others even as we are loved. Such a formula leaves no room for fear or its cousins.

Only living in the light of love can break the cycle of fear and violence. Only by bringing love into the fear and violence of our world can we contribute to its healing. How can we love courageously today as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

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