October 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 199


Sister Lucy's GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER column for October 13, 2000

Be Not Afraid!

        Today is the anniversary of the final apparition at Fatima in 1917. Do you suppose the three children were afraid when she first appeared on May 17th of that year. Do you think they were afraid of what the village people would say and did say, what their parents would say, what the local priest would think, or the local bishop? Do you wonder what they felt knowing what our Blessed Mother told them in confidence? In reading today what she imparted then I can well imagine they were afraid in a human sense.

        In like manner, do you feel afraid at times? Many people do today. Let's think about it! At the announcement of the birth of Jesus, the Angel Gabriel said to Our Lady, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God" (Luke:1:30). At the birth of Jesus, angels proclaimed to the shepherds: "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10).

        There is a lot in our world today that could move us to fear. The Church appears to be weakening in the present state of apostasy that exists. Catholics are being fed superficiality from the pulpit instead of the real Faith. People FEEL like they are sheep without a shepherd. The confusion that exists, the darkness of mind, the inability to discern, the corruption of government, the rationalization, the violence in movies and television, the lack of respect for life in all of its stages... all of these and more contribute to create the feeling of insecurity and fear in the hearts of those who want to be faithful followers of Our Lord and who see what is happening around them to be diametrically opposed to the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus.

        Our Creator knows how we are made and how the results of our sins and the sins of others have scarred us. Our Holy Father in his book CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE wrote: "At the end of the second millennium, we need, perhaps more than ever, the words of the Risen Christ: 'Be not afraid.!' Man who, even after the fall of Communism, has not stopped being afraid and who truly has many reasons for feeling this way, needs to hear these words. Nations need to hear them, especially those nations that have been reborn after the fall of the Communist empire, as well as those that witnessed this event from the outside. Peoples and nations of the entire world need to hear these words. Their conscience needs to grow in the certainty that Someone exists who holds in His hands the destiny of this passing world; Someone who holds the keys to death and the netherworld (cf. Rev 1:18); Someone who is the Alpha and the Omega of human history (cf. Rev 22:13)--be it the individual or collective history. And this Someone is Love (cf. 1 John 43, 16)--Love that became man, Love crucified and risen, Love unceasingly present among men. It is Eucharistic Love. It is the infinite source of communion. He alone can give the ultimate assurance when He says 'Be not afraid!'." (pp221-222.)

        In the Scripture, God tells us the very same thing; consider what Jesus said:

    • "I tell you, My friends do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more" (Luke:12:4).
    • "Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:7).
    • "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

    • "One night in a vision the Lord said to Paul, 'Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent,'" (Acts 18:9).

    • "But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame" (1 Peter 3:14-16).

    • "Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer. Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Apocalypse/Revelation 2:10).

    • "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or be afraid" (John 14:27).

        Again in CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE our Holy Father wrote: "Have no fear of that which you yourselves have created, have no fear of all that man has produced, and that every day is becoming more dangerous for him! Finally, have no fear of yourselves!" (pg. 219)... "God desires the salvation of man, He desires that humanity find that fulfillment to which He Himself has destined it, and Christ has the right to say that His yoke is easy and His burden, in the end, light" (cf.Mt 11:30) (pg. 223).

        The basis of our not being afraid, then, lies in God Himself, Who, being the All-Powerful One, loves us beyond our ability to comprehend and Who desires our salvation. Hope in God is THE reason why we should not be afraid. He is Faithful to His Promises. We can and must put Faith in His words from Mark 5: 35, "Do not be afraid; only have Faith." So there you have it folks, have faith and be not afraid!

        God bless and keep you, dear reader.

    Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

The above is from one of her columns in A Call To Peace from 1996.

October 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 199

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