How Do You NOT Be Afraid?

St. John Mary Vianney, Priest


Fear is a natural emotional response that happens when we come across unfamiliar territory and we are unable to figure out a way through. The other day I lost my phone at the construction site in the pouring rain. I had driven away before I realized it was not with me. And when I retraced my tracks it was nowhere to be found. My most immediate response was fear. What if it gets run over by a car? What if it gets waterlogged and becomes inoperable? What if someone finds it and keeps it? It has all my personal information (which I know no one can access) but still, some hacker might have found a way. So as this storm was churning in my head, I called a friend who thinking more calmly suggested I activate that app that locates your phone. Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? Suddenly the fear was just a little more manageable. Then the friend called back to tell me the store I bought it from has it. Someone found it and turned it in. I just had to identify it to take it back. Whew!

A lot of things in life can cause us to be fearful. So we buy insurance. We take an umbrella. We watch out for pedestrians and children and household pets. We take necessary precautions and hope for the best. But when fear is paralyzing–natural disasters, global pandemics, large scale catastrophes and accidents, mass casualties, devastating illness, death–we are stunned into helplessness. When the disciples in the boat tossed by the wind and waves saw Jesus walking on the water (was he coming to help them? was he just taking a stroll? who knows?) they thought it was a ghost. Yet something else to fear. I can hear their wailing and moaning now. But Jesus tried to calm their fears. “It is I. Do not be afraid.” The natural emotional response we can do little about. But we can also stop feeding the fear within us, choose not to make things worse by conjuring up even more reasons to fear–which we can get really good at. Instead, know that God is present and inviting us to trust.

“Come,” Jesus told Peter, who had to leave the boat and walk on water. That had to take great courage. And even when he was already walking on water, he still felt the raging wind and water enough to falter. We need to sustain the courage that enables us to get out of the boat to start with. And that happens only when we remember who it is we can trust. Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. It seems we need to be reminded of it often. God is with us, present, encouraging, sustaining us in our meager efforts, extending a hand when we begin to sink. God might calm the storm, or God might not. But that is not important. God is with us and will not leave us to walk in the raging storm alone.

This mass was offered for the repose of +Rene Shafer.

Rolo B Castillo © 2020