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Facing our fears with God

The story is told about a boxer who told his coach before the final round: “You were right, coach. I should have knocked down my opponent in the first round when he was all by himself. Now I am seeing two of them.”

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In today’s Gospel (Mt. 14, 22-33), we hear how the disciples were doubly terrified: First, by the big waves tossing their tiny boat; and second, by the sight of Jesus walking on the water, whom they thought was a ghost. What terrifies us these days? The coronavirus outside us, and the virus of fear, itself, that is crippling and imprisoning us inside.

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“Take courage, it is I; Do not be afraid.” How consoling are these words from Jesus which we need so much right now! What’s happening? When will this pandemic end? What will happen to us in the future? We have no clear answers to these questions, but we have a clear assurance from our Lord and Master that He is with us always, and in all ways.

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Jesus said: “Take courage,” and “Do not be afraid.” “Take courage” means to face clear and present dangers without fear. In other words, to be brave. On the other hand, “do not be afraid” means not to feel scared. In other words, not to be apprehensive in one’s thoughts and feelings. Whether our fears are real or imagined, coming from outside or inside us, let us turn in faith to our Lord to help us face and overcome our fears. Fear is from the evil one. The antidote to fear is trust which comes from the Holy Spirit. When afraid, keep saying, “Come, Holy Spirit!”

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And so it is that there are people who are tough outside, but trembling inside. I have met people who think tough, talk tough, and act tough, but are afraid of ghosts. Not just of ghosts that are spirits, but of ghosts within that continue to haunt them because of their past sins, guilt, and misdeeds. The only way to rid oneself of these ghosts is humble repentance, and complete trust in God’s mercy and love. It is God’s love that washes away all our fears.

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Someone said it so well: “Face the light, and the shadow is behind you.” As long as we do not face the light, the shadow will always be in front of us. It is when we humbly face the light that our shadows and ghosts will go behind us and disappear.

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The saints and martyrs had fears, but they faced them with the Lord. St. Lawrence (Aug. 10) faced martyrdom and death with humor and joy, telling the man who was roasting him to turn him over because his back side was well done already!

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St. Claire of Assisi (Aug. 11) embraced poverty, chastity, and obedience. Many of us are afraid to be poor, to be lonely, or to be insignificant, but if we follow the Lord, we are set free from our worldly baggage and illusions.

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St. Maximilian Kolbe (Aug. 14) volunteered to give up his own life for the sake of another prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. He is a reminder and inspiration for all of us who are so afraid of sickness, pain, discomfort, and petty inconveniences.

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As we commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Mother (Aug. 15), we honor this simple woman who was not afraid to follow God’s will, no matter what that entailed. She was not afraid to say her constant “YES” to all that the Lord wanted her to do.

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As for those who continue to make the lives of the last, the least, and the lost in our country miserable because of their greed for power and money, be very afraid. God does not sleep. Divine justice catches up, sooner or later. It will. And people will know, sooner or later. They will.

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A moment with the Lord: Lord, help us to face all our fears with You. Amen.

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TAGS: Gospel, Jerry M. Orbos, Moments
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