Since March, when the quarantine was imposed on us—let’s call spade a spade—we have been living in fear, we are afraid to get sick, we are afraid for our loved ones to get sick, we are afraid to die, and more than that we are afraid to die alone. And until now the fear is still here because the cure is not yet here, the vaccine is not yet here, and the threat is still here.
Fear. Fear is a natural human feeling. In fact, people who do not fear are considered mentally disturbed. Not all fears are bad because some fears help us. Not all fears paralyze us because there are many fears that we need to live in order to survive.
Where does fear come from? We need to know where it comes from because I believe if we know where it comes from, we would be able to face it better. The fear of death, the fear of sickness, the fear of failing, the fear of being cheated, the fear of being ridiculed, the fear of being despised, the fear of being unloved, the fear of being aged, the fear of being forgotten, the fear of being maligned, the fear of being jailed—where do all these fears bring us? All these fears are fruits of one tree and the tree is called the Tree of Loneliness.
Loneliness. The root of all our fears is that we are afraid to be isolated and the fruit of being isolated is loneliness. We are already lonely and we don’t like to be lonelier. We are already reaching out, we already know the feeling of being alone, and we don’t like more of it. When you don’t succeed, you might feel alienated. When you are defeated, when you are ridiculed, when you are forgotten, when you are maligned, when you are bashed, when you are unloved, all of that goes to the bottomline. It is lonely not to succeed, it is lonely to be forgotten, it is lonely to be cheated, it is lonely to be dying alone, it is lonely to get sick.
Brothers and sisters, that is where it all comes from— loneliness. And this loneliness has affected not only us, ordinary mortals. This loneliness has also affected leaders, it has also affected teachers, it has also affected many of those whom we consider role models for us: fathers, mothers. They know loneliness and then what happens? Because of fear of greater loneliness, then we just keep quiet. We don’t win battles anymore; we run away. We don’t like to speak anymore because we are afraid that we will be unloved, that we will cause a revolution. We are afraid that when things get worse, God will not be with us. We are afraid of being lonely and lonelier. And what is the antidote to this fear? What is the antidote to loneliness? The second “L” for today is Love and the summary of love is in Psalm 23: “Even if I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil for you are with Me.”
The truth, my dear brothers and sisters, is God loves me and because God loves me, I am not alone. There is a significant person who loves me. And because God loves me, I can love Him back. And because God loves me, I can love many more. Loneliness is cured by love, not self-love, because self-love is a contradiction. Loneliness is cured by love. We are loved by God and we are capable of loving. And when we are able to live for somebody, and somebody considers us precious and important, somebody misses us and we miss somebody, then we are not lonely anymore because we have learned to love! Love is the antidote to our loneliness that is why the Scriptures say, “Love conquers all fears.” It is not the romantic love, it is love that is living for others, it is to be loved because somebody is willing to live for me.
Our fears come from the Tree of Loneliness, and the loneliness is remedied by love. And when we love, what happens? Please be reminded, my dear brothers and sisters, that there is a big difference between being successful and being fruitful. If you are successful, you may be strong, you may be rich, you may be rewarded, you may be recognized, you may receive medals. But fruitfulness does not come from success. Fruitfulness comes from exposing our vulnerability. Fruitfulness comes from recognizing our loneliness, recognizing our need to be loved; and from the tree of being vulnerable, we will be able to generate life. Come to think of it, we were all born because of human vulnerability, the vulnerability of our parents. And a community is born not because people are strong, not because people are gifted. A community is built because people expose their woundedness. In our woundedness we become compassionate with one another.
Friendship. Friendship is not born from strength; you grow deeper in friendship when you expose each other’s weaknesses, faults, wrinkles, vulnerabilities, the wounds that may have pass, the wounds that still bleed now. When we expose them to our friends, our friendship becomes deeper and our friendship generates life.
There it is, my dear brothers and sisters, three “L’s” for today. Fear comes from the tree that is called loneliness and we all know it—I don’t like to be lonely. I am already lonely, I cannot take more loneliness. The antidote to loneliness is to allow God to love you and to share this love you have received with others. And the fruit… the fruit of exposing our fears, the fruit of talking about our weaknesses, the fruit of talking about our anxieties, to admit that I am not a superman, I am not a superwoman, I am not a super friend, I am wounded and I am still wounding, I have been bruised and I have bruised others, and I am defective. And when that vulnerability is exposed, we will be able to reap the fruits of life. Loneliness, love, and life. In the midst of COVID-19, in the midst of the threat of infection, sickness, and lonely death, the Lord tells us, “Do not be afraid, I am with you. Do not solve COVID-19 by a vaccine, solve it with me. I will fight the battle with you and for you. Just trust.”
The problem of courage is a problem of trust, and the problem of fear is really the problem of faith. So today we ask the Lord: Increase our faith, increase our love, make us instruments of life.