Category Archives: fear

The power of fear

Do not fear…

Three times in today’s Gospel (Matthew 10:24-33) Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not be afraid.”

All too often I find myself worrying over things that I need to do – afraid to fail, afraid that I won’t be able to do them right. This sometimes paralyzes me so much that I don’t dare to do the things I need to do.

All too often I hear people here afraid of being robbed or assaulted. This often causes people to become suspicious of others, breaking down the ties of solidarity.

In what I read of what is happening in the US, I hear people afraid of those who are different, people afraid of losing their privileges. This often leads to demonization of those who are different or marginalization of the perceived threats.

Here in Honduras, there are many people marching in the streets, demanding changes in the government that really address corruption and impunity. But I also hear of the fears of some in light of threats made against some demonstrators and the continuing presence of people connected with some of the government-sponsored terrorism of the 1980s.

In the face of all these fears, though, I feel a deep sense of God’s presence sustaining me – and I pray that others may experience this so that they may be courageous.

Providentially, the Daily Dig from Plough this morning is about fear, taken from the writings of Anthony de Mello, S.J.:

Has it ever struck you that those who most fear to die are the ones who most fear to live? Life is flexible and free, and you are rigid and frozen. Life carries all things away, and you crave stability and permanence. You fear life and death because you cling. You cannot bear the thought of losing a relative or friend; you dread losing a pet theory or ideology or belief. When you cling to nothing, when you have no fear of losing anything, then you are free to flow like a mountain stream that is always fresh and sparkling and alive.

May God give us the courage to be free from fear – even as we face difficult or dangerous situations, remembering our worth in God’s eyes:

Do not be afraid;
you are worth more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10: 31

Fear and the risen Lord

The doors were locked because of their fear…
John 20: 19

 Fear came upon every soul…
and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 2: 43

 Fear can cripple us, make us impotent, turn us in on ourselves. That’s what happened to the apostles after Jesus was crucified.

They cowered in fear, behind locked doors.

It required the presence of the risen Jesus, offering them peace, to move them out of their grief.

But even that wasn’t enough.

Even when they were together a week later, with Thomas, they still met behind locked doors.

Perhaps they had to confront the fact of the death of Jesus before they could receive life from the risen Jesus. They had to see the wounded savior. As Fr. John Kavanaugh, S.J., beautifully puts it, “Faith must be found as much in the wounds of life as in the glories.”

Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (2: 42-47) shows us a community that reflects that life in all they so. People could see the wonders and the signs of Life in the apostles.

And “fear came upon every soul.”

Fear again, but perhaps of a different kind.

The New American Bible translation uses the word “awe” instead of fear (even though the Greek word here and in the Gospel – φόβοϛ – is the same).

Is there a fear, an awe, that opens us up, that shows forth the life of the risen Lrod and the risen community?

I think so. That fear, that awe, is the openness to signs and wonders, to seeing life in the midst of death, to letting the little signs of life permeate our souls.

That fear will let us face the fear that paralyzes, for the fear of God, that “awe” opens us to the presence of God in the midst of suffering and death, to the presence of a risen God who calls us to live.

There are signs of that life all around us. But at times we need to recall them, to open our eyes and our hearts, to unlock the doors of fear.

The Gospel concludes with these words:

There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of his disciples… These are recorded that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ , the Son of God, and that through his belief you may have life in his name.

What are the signs that Jesus does for us today – so that we may have life?

Love casts out fear

Sometimes, even though we are in a dangerous situation, there may be something else that causes us to fear even more.

In today’s Gospel (Mark 6:45-52), the disciples are trying to cross the lake at night, in the midst of a storm. When the disciples saw Jesus coming toward them, walking on the water, they were terrified.

The presence of God can cause us fear (but not the fear of the Lord which is more like awe.) We fear that he is doing something different and might be asking us to do something different in our lives.

The unknown and unexpected can awaken hidden fears in us – perhaps most of all, for me, at least, the fear of losing control.

Even though the waters may be stirring up around me, fear can come upon me when something new happens, that causes me to love control.

We might think that seeing Jesus walking on the waters would have calmed the disciples, but no.

And so Jesus tells them: “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”

The Lord is present. The God of Love is here with us.

And that should lead us to respond in love, not fear – even if it means changing our lives.

As John wrote in his first letter(4: 16, 18):

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.… There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.