December 21, 2007

Fear God, Trust Self vs Fear Self, Trust God

Blessed Mother Teresa wrote, "I fear all things from my weakness - but I trust blindly in His Greatness." Which got me thinking how often we fall into the opposite notion: we fear God and His judgment while having not fearing ourselves much. Our work life generally teaches us that the harder and longer we work, the more we'll succeed. So we are trained to think that success is within our control. In response to difficulties we can amp up our production. But we fear God because we know he is outside our control. We cannot make him save us or cause him to "amp up his production of grace". And the grace often doesn't look much like grace - He often brings sufferings in order to heal us, like the doctor who would cut into us in order to get at the source of infection.

I generally fear doctors and dentists more than myself because I'm easy on myself and they are (superficially) hard on me. But when I am in the doctor's or dentist's chair, a very different thing occurs: I fear myself more. I fear that I'll move my eye just as that laser is doing its thing. Or, when I got my forehead stitched up after colliding with an errant elbow during a basketball game I was conscious of needing to lie perfectly still lest I have a permanent scar. So maybe Mother Teresa saw herself as always in God's operating table, never really outside of it.

Fr. Cessario in the Magnificat publication, writes that the Blessed Virgin Mary is praised for her obedience to God, for her response to God. But he says, "These sentiments are true and praiseworthy. Even so, we must remember the distinctive rhythm that the Annunciation introduces into the world of Christian faith and practice. 'The angel Gabriel was sent from God.' In every good and meritorious thing that happens in our lives, God acts first. This means that the Christian who wants to live a holy life must receive the personal energies to accomplish his or her holy purpose from the same divine Source that Mary did."

In other words, he who would operate on himself has a fool for a surgeon!

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