For this month the house of St. Michael has been spending time in the deep reading of Hesychios the Priest. In this writing, Hesychios reflects on the two virtues of watchfulness and stillness. He claims, “that through these two virtues one can develop a life that leads to, as much as possible, a sure knowledge of the inapprehensible God, and helps us to penetrate the divine and hidden mysteries of the faith.” (Philokalia, 162). He is bold to speak like this not because of anything that we can do, but by what Jesus can do as we learn to call on his gentle name.
Particularly, I want to focus on the theme of fearlessness that Hesychios eludes to as he shares the power of calling on Jesus’ name. For Hesychios, the name of Jesus is powerful. He speaks of it as the weapon that we have been given to fight against our sinful desires and the demons. It is through calling on Jesus’ name that we are able to boldly stand against the things that lead us away from God as well as the way we are strengthened in our pursuit of holiness.
Hesychios gives us a great example of how the powerful name of Jesus helps us move from a defensive position in our battle of sin, to a more aggressive, offensive position. For this, he gives us the model of a spider. Just as the spider waits still and watchful for its food to get caught in its web, so we should also be watchful and still as we wait for the opportunity to reject sin in our lives when it comes and choose Jesus instead.
The example of the spider has revealed to me a new way to look at my pursuit of holiness. For most of my life I have looked at sin as something that I needed to avoid doing. In believing this way, I became more and more frustrated when I would continue falling into sin. After reading Hesychios, it was clear that avoidance of sin is not the focus; instead to call on the name of Jesus and wield his name as a weapon.
With this in mind I want to share a spoken word that I wrote as I have been reflecting on being fearless in my faith.
If perfect love drives out fear, then why is fear driving and I am in the passenger seat holding on for dear life.
If I have been given the power to stamp on scorpions and snakes why then do I feel powerless in my desire to please people that often leads to pain?
Why when I am called to be courageous and bold do I often seemed to fold like a lawn chair that is sitting next to the ocean whose unsettling waves match the way I feel inside. Why, If perfect love drives out fear?
If perfect love drives out fear then why is fear leading the dance of my life? Spinning me, twisting me, seducing my mind as it stares into my eyes paralyzing me.
Why when I’m called to be a child of the light do I actually cover that light with a basket of fright constantly worrying will everything be all right and all the while my freedom is snuffed out. Why? If perfect love drives out fear is there still all this doubt.
Take Paul an apostle of our lord Jesus, who was beaten, flogged, laughed at, stoned, spat upon, mocked, cursed, abandoned, and yet was fearless.
Everywhere Paul went he was equipped at all times with the full armor of God telling people to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power assured them of their hope in Christ by telling them to:
Put on Truth like a belt around their waist and attaching
Righteousness to their bodies like a breastplate,
like shoes on their feet put on whatever will make them ready to proclaim
the gospel of Peace and continuing on in these take up the
shield of Faith and
Put on Salvation like a helmet and finally equip yourself with the sword of
the Spirit, the Word.
Finally, let us look at the greatest example of all, Jesus and his victory over fear on the cross. For he was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, silent, he didn’t speak even a sound. So according to the prophet Isaiah speaking about Him who wouldn’t say a word, but with his very life proclaimed complete victory of the curse, then fulfilled his promise to always be near and with that destroyed all of our ability to fear.
So, these words are true and worth to be said, “ Perfect love does drive out fear, amen and amen!”