Have no Fear, God is Our Strength

06-25-2017HomiliesFather Tony Okolo, CSSp

Fear limits our world view and life’s infinite possibilities. Fear can take away our confidence and trust in God and create a sense of doubt in the power of our Almighty God. When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, fear can blind us to most possibilities. And fear can rob us of our ability to reason correctly and warp our thinking.

Three times Jesus calls out to his listeners today “Have no fear, do not be afraid”. What are we called not to fear? To have no fear at all would probably not be the right thing. Because there is a lot that quite naturally frightens us as human beings. We are afraid of anything that threatens us and anything against which we feel powerless. Many people are anxious about their job today especially with more and more jobs being streamlined away, again worrying about health can be a heavy burden, as are problems in relationships, marriage crisis and the accompanying loss of security that threatens. All these are forces that threaten our lives and can create deep fear in our lives. And because everything in this world is transitory, everything is always and everywhere endangered as well, and from this comes so much of the fear in our lives. At its deepest level, is probably the fear of losing what is dear to us? It is just this fear that we should overcome, even if it seems almost impossible.

Today’s liturgy challenges us to rely on God for our security amidst life’s situations. We are encouraged never to allow fear of what those in opposition of the gospel message can do to us. Rather we should remain faithful and firm in God’s providence. We are called not to allow fear to take away our trust and confidence in God. We are invited to remain on the side of the Lord in the midst of criticism, ridicule and persecutions that may come to us from all sides because of our faith in our Lord. Some of our persecutions can come from close family members or close associates but we are not to be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the spirit. The only thing we should be afraid of, is our separation from the Lord.

The next consideration is why Jesus tells us not to be afraid. He tells us not to be afraid because, by his death and resurrection, he has defeated death which is one of the main reasons of our fear in life. He wants us to realize that he is the author of life and he holds our lives in his palms. He wants us to always stand on the side of truth and remain faithful since truth must surely triumph over falsity. Light must always overcome darkness. Thus, when you are on the side of truth have no fear for Our Lord Jesus stands by your side. Jesus in today’s gospel passage does not say or promise that nothing would happen to his disciples nor is he saying that they would be spared or saved by miraculous intervention. He is telling us to remain firm since through this faithfulness we can bear witness to his name. This is what happened to Jeremiah in today’s first reading. He was being attacked because of his truthfulness that at a point he wanted to give up but he remained firm.

Death, which is certain for us all, is not the greatest evil. It is worse to lose one’s soul, to become heartless. Whoever fearlessly gives his life to fight for good, for others, and for God does not need to fear death. This is demonstrated in the life of Jesus and Jeremiah as we see in the first reading of today. But then, the question is how can such inner freedom be won? Jesus in his third “Have no fear” gives the way. The answer is Trust in God. Your father in heaven knows what you need. He cares for all of us and you in particular, down to the very hairs on your head. He loves even the sparrows and how much more you. He tells us to trust in him, that he is near us and he has us in his palm. If we have such confidence and trust in his presence in our lives, then we have nothing to fear.

I wish you all and your families a marvelous and blessed Sunday.