Fear – an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause harm, or is a threat. Fear, however, is not always associated with that which is threatening or dangerous … Fear could also mean reverence or awe – often used in reference to God … Fear of the Lord is one of the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit. How is it used here, in this Gospel? One criminal to the other – “have you no fear of God?” What does he mean? Reverence? Does he mean God is dangerous? Or a threat?
It was no accident that Jesus was crucified between 2 criminals. It was deliberate. The Roman authorities did that to humiliate Him. But who are these 2 guys? What was it that gave them a death sentence? I just couldn’t help but be struck by the exchange between the criminals … as they all hang in misery and agony it is there that one of them finds faith … there He sees Jesus for who He really is – God incarnate. And his last “criminal” act on earth would be to “steal” heaven with those famous words – “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Have you no fear…? Do you not see Who this is? His words ought to remind us that we too hang in the balance – we too are in need of God’s mercy … Have you no fear of God?
Friends, I think that this is the problem we face in the world today… So many of our friends, family members, co-workers are like lost sheep … but they don’t know it because they have no fear of God … What do I mean by that? In which sense do I mean? Nothing is sacred, nothing is holy, nothing has value … nothing is supernatural … many people today have no fear – no sense of reverence for things eternal… it isn’t that people see God as a threat, its that they only see themselves … The world with its societal trends and secular ideologies is anchored in “the self” … one’s ego. God thus becomes a threat to their way of life.
What about us, on the other hand? Have we no fear of God? I sometimes think yes – in the threatening way and yes in the reverent way … what I do mean? Many of us – faithful Catholics – we too see God as a threat to my way of life. Why? Because we don’t like change, we don’t want to change … we are anchored in “the self” and our egos can get in the way of letting God in … But at the same time, we are here because we believe, we’re here because we have a sense of the supernatural and the reality of things eternal … But maybe we need more … maybe we need do something to help us see Jesus for who He really is … Hence, the moving of the tabernacle from the side to the center … This is one gesture gives evidence of our reverence and awe before the mystery of Christ in the Eucharist, in His presence among us… The “good thief” called out from his own cross because He saw Jesus unveiled …. We too must let out our cries that we see Him for who He really is – our King and Lord now and forever. And we must not be afraid to make to make Him known, loved and revered … This small gesture is our way of saying – Jesus Christ is the very center of lives, He is the center of this faith community … and we are not afraid to make that know to others … may they too then, see Him as we do – King and Lord forever.