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Be Not Afraid

by May 10, 2024Friar Reflection

In today’s first reading the Lord tells Paul, “Do not be afraid.”  The Lord does not promise Paul a carefree life.  Indeed, Paul is hauled before the proconsul Gallio by the Jews in Corinth and accused of “inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.”  Nonetheless Paul continues to fearlessly preach and evangelize.

Jesus warns his disciples in today’s Gospel: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”  Jesus uses the example of a woman in labor.  During her time of labor, she is in anguish and pain but once she has given birth her joy helps her to forget the time of pain.  Jesus tells us that we are all in labor as we allow the grace of God to spring forth in our lives.  While even now there are times of joy there will also be times of rejection and ridicule as we try each day to follow the way of Jesus.  His way is not to attack and mock in turn but to “turn the other cheek.”  Jesus’ way was not of condemnation but helping others to see the goodness and presence of God in their lives.

Jesus’ way is indeed challenging and so we need to hear his exhortation, “Be Not Afraid.”  This way of Jesus is a direct challenge to us today especially with the constant polarization in society and in the church.  Instead of turning the other cheek we ridicule our “opponent” with name calling and caricatures of their position using buzz words without attempting to fully understand their position and what they are saying.  Jesus’ challenge is to recognize that God is not only on our side but also on the side of our opponent be they liberal or conservative, Muslim, Christian or Jew.  So, we are challenged, “Be Not Afraid” as we are called to be Ministers of Reconciliation and Instruments of God’s peace.

Image: “Saint Paul” by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.