The Fearful Hoarders
Once there was a group of people who surveyed the resources of the world and said to each other: “How can we be sure that we have enough in hard times? We want to survive whatever happens. Let us start collecting food and knowledge so that we are safe and secure when a crisis occurs.” So they started hoarding, so much and so eagerly that other people protested and said: “You have much more than you need, while we don’t have enough to survive. Give us part of your wealth!” But the fearful hoarders said: “No, no, we need to keep this in case of an emergency, in case things go bad for us too, in case our lives are threatened.” But the others said: “We are dying now; please give us food and materials and knowledge to survive. We can’t wait, we need it now!” Then the fearful hoarders became even more fearful, since they became afraid that the poor and hungry would attack them. So they said to one another: “Let us build walls around our wealth so that no stranger can take it from us.” They started erecting walls so high that they could not even see anymore whether there were enemies outside the walls or not! As their fear increased they told each other: “Our enemies have become so numerous that they may be able to tear down our walls. Our walls are not strong enough to keep them away. We need to put explosives and barbed wire on top of the walls so that nobody will dare to even come close to us.” But instead of feeling safe and secure behind their armed walls they found themselves trapped in the prison they had built with their own fear.
When Saint John so beautifully says that perfect love drives out fear, he points to a divine love that comes from God. He does not detail a strategic plan with development goals or security systems. He does not speak about human affection, psychological compatibility, mutual attraction, or deep interpersonal feelings. All of that has its value, but the perfect love about which Saint John speaks embraces and transcends all plans, feelings, emotions, and passions. The perfect love that drives out all fear is the divine love in which we are invited to participate as we learn to dwell in intimacy with the author of love. That intimate place of true belonging is therefore not a place made by human hands. It is fashioned for us by God, who came to pitch his tent among us, invited us to dwell in his place, and has prepared a room for us in his own house.
-Fr. Henri Nouwen