Friday, March 25, 2011

Be Not Afraid

“And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’” Luke 1: 28-29

What are you afraid of? Spiders? Snakes? Clowns? Things that go bump in the night? I think all of us have fears, some that are grounded in reality, others not. And there are certainly many things in the world to fear. Cassie Bernall was a teen living in Columbine, CO when two classmates decided to go on a rampage of shooting in their school. As Cassie crouched underneath a table in the library, one of the shooters approached her, pointed a gun at her and asked her if she believed in God. She said yes and he shot her dead. I bet she was scared. But she still professed her faith in Jesus. While most of us will never have to face the business end of a gun to profess our faith, there are a hundred other ways that we can be afraid of following Jesus or acknowledging our belief in Him. And perhaps in some ways, it might seem even harder to admit your faith to your friends, classmates, family, or co-workers, because then they would expect you to live it and you would have to put up with continual persecution.

Or do you think it would be easier to have an angel appear to you in your bedroom tonight and deliver a message from God to you. DO you think you’d be afraid? Mary was not afraid of the angel, or the angel’s appearance, but she was troubled by his message. Perhaps that’s what you and I fear the most too: what is God asking of us? What does He want us to do? Be a priest or nun? Go to a Third World country as a missionary? Or maybe He wants us to give up a friendship or relationship that is keeping us from Him, or stop listening to a certain kind of music or stop watching a TV show we love?

Pope John Paul II’s first words as pope were “Be not afraid” and I have heard it said that a variation of this phrase is mentioned in Scripture 365 times—one for every day of the year! I think God is trying to tell us something. God does not want to take good things away from us. He does not want our lives to be boring and lonely. He does not want us to be removed from the world completely. What He wants for us is LIFE, and life to the full. A life of authentic freedom, the freedom to avoid sin and to do good. A life of self-donation. A life of greatness! May we fall on our knees this Lent and say yes to Him without reservation, as Mary did, so that we can experience all that He has planned for us!

Dear Jesus, calm my fears and help me to trust You completely and without reservation. Amen.

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