In the Gospel of Matthew (10:26-33), Jesus tells us to not be afraid because we are valued by God. The words, “fear not” appear in the Bible 365 times, most having to do with our relationship with God. Our freedom from fear has everything to do with our relationship with God who created us out of love. A starting point is to pray for a stirring up of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit we received at our baptism:
- Fear of the Lord
They may influence our decisions and guide us to a faithful relationship with God.
Going Beyond Our Comfort Zone
Often overlooked, or misunderstood is the gift, Fear of the Lord. This is not a cowering fear, but an understanding that God is all almighty, the source of everything that exists, and it is his love that sustains all creation. We, his lowly, creatures have the capacity to shun his love and live as if there is no God. To fear the Lord is to acknowledge our lowliness and our need for his presence in our life.
Psalm 111 concludes with the words,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it.”
It is this gift of the Holy Spirit that helps us to order our lives to God so that we may receive from him the grace we need to be his disciples; the grace that is necessary for us to do the things we can only do with his help. At the natural level, most of us have something we fear, something in us that God wants to conquer. Even when we decide we want to serve God, he is likely to expect something from us that we find difficult to do. One of those fears that haunted me for more than thirty years was speaking in public. I had even taken a Dale Carnegie speaking course. which didn’t help me. It wasn’t long after I began diaconate formation that I realized I would have to proclaim the Gospel in front of the congregation at St. Matthew parish in San Antonio, TX. I talked to the associate pastor at our parish about my problem and he said to pray and practice, and if God called me to this ministry the problem would be resolved. At that time, we had daily Mass in the chapel, and I began to read the first reading with much anxiety. However, after a few weeks, I began to lose my fear with the help of God’s grace. In these years of ministry, I frequently find myself in situations that call me out of my comfort zone, but God’s grace is always there to carry me through as he promises.
Be A Witness of Your Faith
The fear of the Lord helps us to cast aside our selfishness so that we can Love God above everything else and our neighbor as ourselves. God is the source of all love and everything that is good, and we will never reach our potential for loving ourselves, or anyone else until we love God first. God commands us to love him, not because he needs our love, but because it is his love that makes it possible for us to reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity.
We see the reality of this truth when we read the lives of the saints. They had their own struggles just like us, but their love for God helped them to persevere through great difficulties. The witness of their faith was necessary for the continuation of the Church.
Share the Faith
When Christians do not live and share their faith it creates a vacuum which is filled with opposition to the plan of God. This has never been more evident than in the times in which we live. The fastest-growing population is made up of those who reject religion or God altogether. We see the terrible consequences all around the world, but most especially in our own country where morality is decreasing at an alarming rate.
“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matthew 10:28).
Develop a Holy Discipline
I hope we realize that much of what is being forced on us by some in our government and educational institutes is a threat to our souls. We are called to be the heroic men and women of our time to stand against opposition to the Gospel. The plan of God is the same for us as past generations. Every one of us needs a discipline of daily prayer, monthly confession so we can remain in the state of grace, and Mass attendance every weekend and during the week if possible. The Mass is the most powerful prayer on earth because it makes present to us on the altar the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus gives us his body and blood to receive in Holy Communion so we can become more like him. When we receive Holy Communion, we are receiving God because Jesus is God. We should try to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament chapel for at least one hour every week out of gratitude for all he has given us. Husbands and wives should pray together every day even if it is a very simple spontaneous prayer, and pray with their children. When children see their parents praying together it gives them a great sense of security and they also will want to learn how to pray. Also important is growing in faith together as a family and talking about the issues that challenge our faith. Our Lady has asked us to pray the rosary every day for the salvation of souls. Millions of people do not pray and have no one to pray for them except Christians who take their faith seriously.
In the Catholic Church exists the possibility and responsibility to change humanity into the living Body of Jesus Christ. Every one of us by nature of our baptism and participation in the other sacraments is expected to make a positive contribution to our Church and society.
When we live our Catholic faith and remain close to God, we have nothing to fear and become a source of hope for others.
Deacon Tom Fox, C.K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Commander Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.