CONFRONTING OUR FEARS WITH UNSHAKABLE FAITH
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9,11-13
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 84(85):9-14
Second reading: Romans 9:1-5
Gospel Reading: Matthew 14:22-33
Fear, the shadowy companion that often lurks in the corners of our lives, possesses a power that can either shape us or shatter us. It emerges as an emotion deeply rooted in the human experience, arising from the depths of our vulnerability and uncertainty. Much like a hidden current in the passage of time, fear has been acknowledged and explored in various dimensions in Sacred Scripture. As we journey through the readings of this Sunday, we unravel the perilous effect of fear, and the need to confront this reality in our everyday existence.
In the First Reading (1 Kings 19:9,11-13), we find the prophet Elijah retreating into a cave, haunted by fear as he contemplates the challenges he faces. Amidst the gusts of wind, quaking earth, and blazing fire, a gentle whisper captures his attention. This whisper serves as a metaphor for the divine voice that often goes unnoticed amidst the clamor of fear. It is in this quiet revelation that Elijah discovers the futility of succumbing to fear’s dominion. His experience teaches us that fear can distract us from the gentle guidance and solace that lie beyond its tumultuous facade. Instead of surrendering to its grip, we are invited to seek the stillness within and listen to the whispers of courage and hope.
From the foregoing, we hear the Psalmist’s words (Ps. 84/85:9-14), which reflect the sentiments of a heart longing for deliverance from the shackles of fear. The passage speaks of mercy, peace, and righteousness meeting together. It is a reminder that fear can disrupt the harmony within our inner being, disrupting the delicate balance between these virtues. When fear gains ascendancy, our perception becomes skewed, leading us away from the path of righteousness and serenity. The Psalmist’s plea serves as a clear reminder that embracing fear can hinder us from experiencing the alignment of mercy and peace in our lives.
And in the epistle to the Romans, Paul’s anguish for his people is palpable. His willingness to bear “great sorrow and endless anguish” exposes the conflict between his love for his people and the fear of their spiritual state. This internal struggle showcases how fear can intermingle with love, often blurring the clarity of our intentions. Paul’s example brings to limelight how fear can cloud our perception and prevent us from seeing others through the lens of compassion. It serves as a cautionary tale, urging us to acknowledge fear’s potential to distort our genuine love and concern for others.
Juxtaposing this concept of fear with the Gospel Reading (Matthew 14:22-33), we see the account of Jesus walking on water and the consequent fear of Peter. Although initially stepping out of the boat, Peter’s faith is momentarily great; nevertheless, as he takes notice of the raging waves, fear starts to erode his confidence, and he starts sinking. This narrative underscores the delicate balance between faith and fear. While faith empowers us to go beyond our limitations, fear can sink us into self-doubt and apprehension. Peter’s faltering steps illustrate how fear, when allowed to dominate, can lead to sinking in the very waters we were meant to conquer.
Dear friends in Christ, fear emerges as an adversary that can erode our courage, distort our perceptions, and hinder our spiritual growth. Yet, amidst the turbulence of life’s challenges, today’s readings offer insights into overcoming fear’s grasp. From the still whisper of guidance to the plea for deliverance, the Scriptures reveal that fear’s danger lies not only in its presence but also in its potential to blind us to the deeper truths that beckon us. Let us pray and ask the good Lord to grant us the grace to recognize fear’s influence and acknowledge its potential to distort our perceptions and decisions. We should seek stillness and guidance at the Eucharistic table, just as Elijah found solace in the gentle whisper on the mountain; thus, we are encouraged to seek moments of stillness amidst life’s turbulence. Unfortunately, fear often confines us to the safety of our comfort zones, preventing us from embracing new experiences and opportunities. By confronting our fears and approaching them with faith, we can harness their energy for positive change. May we cultivate virtues such as courage, love, and hope as antidotes to fear. These virtues empower us to face challenges, approach others with compassion, and maintain a positive outlook even in the face of uncertainty.
As we journey through life’s unpredictable terrain, may these lessons guide us to face our fears with unshakable faith, seeking the metamorphic power that dispels fear’s shadows and leads us toward a life characterized by courage, love, and hope.
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© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
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