Remember the old black and white spooky movies? The ones about Frankenstein, the Mummy, and Dracula? They were scary! Now the seem almost comical. Naturally a comforting word from parents helped, “There’s nothing to fear. It’s just a movie.”
Fear is often misappropriated. We fear things that are unimportant or over which we have no control. Commercials use fear to sell products. Evil uses fear to keep us away from God. Consider that some people are still afraid to come to Holy Mass because they are afraid to get sick. They are not afraid to go to the mall or to the grocery store or the beauty shop. But coming to Church is extremely dangerous! What’s worse is that such fears are popular. After three years some folks have remembered that they are Catholic; that there is no longer a dispensation to miss Mass; and that watching Holy Mass on television can never be the same as when we come in person. Misplaced fear can be convenient. “I can’t invite my in-laws for dinner because they won’t like what I make.” “If I go for a walk I might fall, better stay home.” “I’m never going to help those people because they are just ‘freeloaders.’” Some fears are closely connected to our prejudices or what we want or do not want to do. Jesus directs us to act without fear, particularly when speaking about Him. He is truth, the Good News, our hope for everlasting life. We should not be afraid to share our Faith, even if others disagree. The Gospel message cannot be watered down. All life is sacred—from the womb to the tomb. That’s nothing new. Reading the Bible, knowing our Faith, respecting life is not about winning an election. The message is much bigger than our Country, our nationality, the language we speak.
The message remains unknown to many. We are supposed to shout it from the housetops. How can we announce to others if some of us have not heard the message? How can we proclaim what we do not believe? The message is that we are loved without conditions. Easy to say, difficult to assimilate. Since we place conditions on one another, even on ourselves, we have difficulty accepting the fact that God loves us just because God wants to love us. But what if we cheat? If we get a divorce? If we are unfaithful in marriage? There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. We can block His grace. We can say “no” to His mercy. Those are the folks who condemn themselves. God always waits for us. Like the father who waited for his spoiled son to come home. And when he came home the father did not reprimand him. He threw a big party.
Jesus said, if sparrows are important to God, how much more are each of us important! God wants only good things for us. Then why do bad things happen to good people? We do we get sick? Several responses can satisfy our intellect, but the Lord speaks to our heart. His voice comforts us. He helps us to pick up the pieces after we have made a mess of our life. God will never abandon us even when we have ignored Him. Most of us act in desperation, ignorance, loneliness. In our stupidity we only hurt ourselves. When we stop kicking, when we stop resisting we realize our dependency upon the One who wants to help us. “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” We cannot have a love relationship with someone whom we fear. False images of an angry God, a vengeful God continue to be perpetuated. Jesus points us in the opposite direction. He invites us to be the advertisement for evangelization—the perpetuation of the Good News. Evangelization is not so much about what we say, but how we act—how we love. Families putting up with each other—at times keeping silent rather than arguing. People who choose to forgive instead of holding a grudge. Folks who look for the positive in others and avoid being overly critical. The challenge of the Gospel puts us on the front lines in a world filled with negativity.
Yet, we have nothing to fear. The unconditional love of God is our protection.