July 23-24, 2016

Friends, 

I do not want to live my life in fear; fear of God or fear of humanity. I have worked hard on reversing my fear of God by expanding my understanding of who God is. I no longer understand God as a dictator apart from me who lives in heaven and makes demands and sends people to hell. I now know that God is love and God is life itself. So I no longer fear God, I experience God. I am not preoccupied with earning God's love or with losing God's love. I welcome God's love in my life and I celebrate it every day. 

This major shift in my concept of God has changed my life completely. This type of change is called a paradigm shift, which means that it changes everything. My concept of God affects every aspect of my life. 

In our lifetime we have seen our fear of humanity escalate, as our fear of God as lessened. Because of the increase in violence, terrorism, addiction and hatred, we now are living as a society in fear of one another. The recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh, Nice, Paris and elsewhere highlight this newfound distrust of one another. As I remember, wars were fought in other countries and had a declaration date and a conclusion. The only ones fighting those wars were the military. We would read about it or see news accounts of what was happening “over there.” We now have grown suspect of anyone who looks different than we do. We link terrorism with the Muslim religion and so we fear Islam and all its followers. The recent violence in our streets has forces many citizens (especially those of color) to suspect law enforcement of wrongdoing, and has forced our first responders to fear for their own lives. And how much fear is surrounding the political atmosphere in our country and is very evident in this year's presidential election process. 

How many times do we hear parents and grandparents who fear for the future of their children and grandchildren? They worry about the world we are passing on to future generations. Then there is the fear of what humanity is doing to the environment and our planet. So many adults are becoming overwhelmed with all of these fears and begin to see them as signs of the end of the world. I'm not a Biblical Fundamentalist so I don't take biblical predictions literally. 

Obviously, my understanding of God's unconditional Love for me has to affect my understanding of the world and humanity. I don't live in a fantasy world. I am very aware of the dangers that are so prevalent in the world today. There are so many contributing factors to the reasons people legitimately fear other people. This is so foreign for those of us in the Baby Boomer generation and beyond. Our times had their problems but we never thought that there was any doubt we would return home safely from whatever our destination. 

So, my relationship with God is a source of hope for me. My awareness that God's Spirit is very visible to me is reassuring. My belief that Jesus' message of peace is intended for all, is what being a Catholic Christian is all about. 

I refuse to allow fear to determine who I am. 

Enjoy Life! 
Fr Coyne

 

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