Christ is Risen! Truly he has risen!
“Be not afraid!.” This was a common theme in the pontificate of St. John Paul II. It was a beautiful message of hope and encouragement during a tumultuous period in world history. Yet it is a message that is of perennial value. Why? Because the words of St. John Paul II were taken from the One who speaks to every time and place, people and tongue. This is the message of Jesus Christ to us.
This theme of finding courage in Christ is recurrent throughout scripture. One such passage is John 14:1 in which we hear our Lord say: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God [the Father]; have faith also in me.”
Christ tells us that we need not be troubled of heart, at least, insofar as we choose to keep our focus on him. This consolation from our savior can help us keep perspective, especially in the era of modern media. We are constantly bombarded with news stories and coverage that bring into our lives and living rooms every violent, tragic, or disturbing situation that is occurring throughout the world.
In a desire to be informed, many people begin to feel internally disturbed of spirit—overwhelmed by all that is evil and broken in the world. This disturbance can be twofold. On the one hand, people experience fear for the future of their families and loved ones. On the other hand, those motivated by zealous charity to serve others can feel that their efforts are meaningless against the tide of such malevolence.
As Christians, if we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed for either of these reasons, it should serve as a reminder to return our gaze, our attention to Christ. As the scriptures exhort us: “Seek out the Lord and his might; constantly seek his face.” In looking to Christ we are reminded of two things. First, our hope is not in this world, but in the promise of God’s kingdom as we pray in the Our Father. Second, we are not the savior of the world, He is. We can rest in Christ—He wants us to.
This scriptural wisdom finds expression in a modern prayer called the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:
“God, give us grace to accept with serenity
The things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.— Amen.”
Praised be Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, now and forever!