Grace and Peace to you and through you …
In the Gospels we notice that conversations with God follow a particular pattern. They are brief. They are simple. And they are ultimately about what God wants to do through them rather than to them. The conversations all start the same way: “Do not be afraid”. That is the very first thing God is determined to tell people. “Do not fear”. God knows fear makes us deaf to the Divine voice. Only until we get through our fear will our hearts be open to hearing anything else and will we be able to honour what we have heard. Fear is the great stumbling block to living faithfully, because fear casts out love.
The converse is equally true: Love casts out fear, therefore the second thing God is determined we realise is: “You are favoured”. In other words, we are graced, i.e. un-deservedly and un-reservedly loved. We live in a world however, where some people are valued more than others. This is the great lie. The Divine wants all to know that our lives are priceless. We are set free from our fear the moment we accept that we are favoured, priceless and held in Love. We are invited to trust that nothing can separate us from this Love, because we live and move and have our being in Love – Divine Love. Jesus teaches us that the ultimate authority in the universe (heaven) is a Loving Parent – a Loving Parent who we do not need to fear and a Loving Parent who we do not need to impress in order to love us.
Thirdly, what comes next is the “Jesus move”. In order to respond to the love of our Loving Parent, Jesus calls us to love our neighbour.
In other words the way we love God is by loving our neighbour. The “Jesus move” is returning our love to God by directing our love towards our neighbour. As Jesus said, God desires mercy not sacrifice. We can’t love God by perform-ing rituals – no matter how sacred we deem them. We can only love God by showing mercy to our neighbour and all of creation. When people like Mary heard that they were favoured and therefore had nothing to fear, they were given a vision of what life should look like according to our Loving Parent’s own heart – a life where all are valued including the lowly and poor. This involves correcting past injustices and restructuring of society through its laws and policies fixing fairness into the fabric of society.
So in the Gospels we see that conversations with God follow this flow: do not fear … you are favoured … now live my vision of a new society in which everyone can know that they are priceless. To honour this conversation will demand much contemplation and much action on our part: Contemplation, i.e. trustfully sitting in the knowledge of our fear-expelling-favour and action in our daily reshaping of the structures of society to value the priceless-ness of all people.