There are a lot of things to be afraid of, like flying, but we should never be afraid of being asked to give a reason for our faith.
Most of my friends know that I do not like to fly. I don’t think it is because we are 30,000 ft above the ground and if we have an accident, well, that’s probably the end of it. I don’t think it's for any logical reason that I fear flying. It is much more dangerous to get in your car and drive down Interstate 635 then it is to get into a plane. This fear is something I have lived with for a while and it has gotten a lot better over the years. But I do remember one incident that was not at all amusing. I was flying to Westchester County airport and as we were landing the winds picked up quite a bit. The plane appeared to be out of control – the wings were flapping up and down and plane was swaying back and forth. Just as we were about to touch the ground, the pilot suddenly pulled the plane up, as if we were taking off. The landing had been aborted.
To a passenger nearby I calmly said, “Ok…not a problem...” To myself, I said, “Is this pilot crazy!? He’s gonna get us all killed!” I took out my hidden rosary and explained to the passenger next to me that it was just about the hour that I usually pray my rosary…and that it had nothing to do with our plane nearly crash landing! He just nodded. I’m sure he didn’t buy that at all.
Once again, the pilot approached the runway and this time the turbulence was worse than before. Just as we were about to land, he aborted for the second time. By now my heart was racing. I was thinking of all my sins and said an Act of Contrition. For the first time, it became very apparent that I was not the only one concerned. An African-American passenger a few rows behind me began to pray quietly but loud enough for everyone to hear. She kept saying over and over again, and with a certain cadence, “Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…” I have to be honest and say that that didn’t help me at all.
Mind you, the pilot, throughout the entire time, said NOTHING. It was probably better that way. Finally, after circling the airport, the plane, for the third time, approached the runway and this time it landed. I cannot remember if we began to applaud, but I sure felt like it.
Now, on the opposite side of the aisle, there was a young boy who, throughout the entire time, did not look scared at all. He was about eleven or twelve. Afterwards, I said to him, “Pretty scary.” He said, “Ah…not really…I knew we were going to land.” I said to him, “How did you know.” He looked at me with a big smile and said, “My dad’s the pilot.”
What does all this have to do with today’s Gospel? God is in control of everything! He is the pilot. Why do I believe in God? Because life is absolutely unique, amazing and beautiful. It is lovely! And because of it, death is an unwelcomed guest. If death were natural, we would not complain at all. We would be filled with joy for that moment. We would treat it like everything else. But death, like sin, is an intruder, and we fight it to avoid it! Why do I believe in the Christian God? Because our God revealed himself through the Love of his life: Jesus Christ, who became the love of our life. Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God! We know two things about God: God is Love and God is a Father. Is there anyone or anything greater than love, than God? Love and Father are unique names for God. No other religion refers to God as Love or as a Father. Love is given depth through sacrifice. Christ sacrificed it all for us. Love is best defined by giving. Chirst gave it all! Love is most appreciated by the way it forgives. Christ forgave us all. Can we think of anyone superior to Jesus, to His Love? Christ gave it all for us as he forgave all of us. For this reason, Jesus is Lord and God. Why do I believe in the Catholic Church? Because the Eucharist is the most sublime/humble act from our Supreme God of his supreme Love for us? After all, is not love the two becoming one, the consummation of one by the other? We are so envious! We would love to love like that! We would all love to be a eucharistic gift for another – to be so intimate, out of love, with the love of our life. The Eucharist is the ultimate giving of self and the only way in which Christ’s words ring true: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”
All the earth can cry out to God with joy. (Ps. 66:1) We can all be confident in Him, through Him and with Him.
End the day well today. Give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear. (1 Pt 3:15-18)