Day 36 of Lent: Love and Fear

Last but not least Mark mentions a group of women “looking on the cross from afar.”  Mark 15:40-41 lists Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and also Salome. Then he mentions “also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.”  The Gospel of John mentions that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was present along with the beloved disciple whom we understand to be John.  Jesus commits his mother to John’s care.  In the midst of this tragic drama, a group of women stand in solidarity with Jesus in his agony.  I have pondered this kind of loyalty.

         John in his first letter to followers talks extensively about love.   1 John 4:10 shares “This is love not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”   He continues in verse 18, “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.”  Love gives us strength in times of great need.  People do amazing feats when their loved ones are in danger.  But John is talking here about a love that flows from God, that is not adrenaline based, but perhaps the deep compassion that has led to Christians organizing hospitals, orphanages, homes for the needy and many other enterprises.  It is a love that does not demand but that shows great strength in the presence of tragedy Love longs to assist.  I think of the many who are willing to work in the midst of the pandemic to assist people – employees at stores as well as medical people.  In the darkest hours this kind of love is a beacon of hope for the future.  We know the resurrection is coming but they did not.  They only knew their friend needed them.

         Perhaps we can spend a few minutes now remembering those who stood by us in our “ugly” times, encouraging us and loving us.  Prayers of thanksgiving are appropriate.  Likewise we can pray and ask God to put on our hearts and minds the name of someone who needs for us to reach out in love today.  Perfect love casts out fear – well, maybe our love is not so perfect and maybe we are a bit fearful, but we can still ask God for his love and we can reach out.  Pick up the phone and give someone a call!

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