JUSTeach Newsletter

April 2003

Overcoming Fear with Love

The recent Chicago nightclub tragedy demonstrated the level of fear present among United States residents. The current war in Iraq not only raised tensions, distress, and fear throughout the world, but also increased internal turmoil for those who view the pre-emptive attack as immoral. Two hundred twenty-seven years have passed since Thomas Paine wrote "these are the times that try men’s souls." With all questions surrounding the present US war in Iraq the meaning of those words intensifies.

Throughout the Scriptures we are told to fear not. Many individuals, religious leaders, and whole denominations are trusting those words. Boldly they take risks, speak out, and even do civil disobedience because of the current international violence. 1Peter 3:14 says, "But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear; do not be frightened." In Romans 8: 35, 37-39 Paul asks readers,

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Trial, or distress, or persecution, or hunger,o r nakedness, or danger, or the sword? Yet in all this we are more than conquerors because of him who has loved us. For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

God assures us of His continuous love, guidance, and care. What do we have to do then not to fear? Trust, pray, discern, and continue to trust, pray, discern until we become aware of what we are called to do, and then be faithful in trusting, praying, discerning, and acting. God will grace us with whatever we need, including a deeper and more selfless love. "Love has no room for fear; rather, perfect love casts out all fear. And since fear has to do with punishment, love is not yet perfect in one who is afraid." (1 John 4: 18)How do we assist students in this process? Besides personal example we can present other role models. You can access Peacemaker Profiles on our website. There are "good news" stories of people of moral integrity in the local media. Doug Kasper from St. Isidore Parish in Bloomingdale will soon be released from a Georgia county jail for civil disobedience action at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. Sisters Mary Kay Flannigan, O.S.F. and Kathleen Desantels, S.P. from Eighth Day Center in Chicago also spent time in federal prison camps for the same cause.Also, stories from literature often demonstrate authentic Christian living. See our website or call our ministry office (815-834-4028) for information on the Reading It Right Program. Available on the website’s home page is a Children’s Liturgy: Assurance of God’s Love During A Time of War. For additional justice and tolerance education resources check the Southern Poverty Law Center website: www.splcenter.org .With peace, hope, and expectation this Eastertide,

Joyce Ruhaak




email us:  peace@dioceseofjoliet.org