by Father Eliot Nitz
"Fear no one," Jesus tells his apostles.
He goes on to say that they shouldn't be afraid of those who kill the body. Rather, they should fear those who can kill both body and soul.
I have a friend who says that he could never be Catholic.
Why? He says, "It's too complicated."
I guess I understand why he would say that - a beginner just looking into something that has a history and tradition.
But, Catholicism isn't as complicated as it is challenging. Maybe that's why we have this so-called "Catholic Guilt."
Our standard is Christ, and who can ever measure up to him? And yet, he challenges us to be like him - he who is the way, the truth, and the life.
He tells His apostles not to fear. and, by extension, he tells us not to fear.
We live in a different time and context, but the message is the same: fear not.
What or whom do we fear? There we go again. We have to look deeply within ourselves and ask ourselves uncomfortable questions.
Fear may be the organizing principle around which we live our lives. In other words, the semi-recognized fear that underscores many or most or our decisions.
I admit that this is a difficult question to answer. But, unless we answer it, we become slaves to that fear. And, Christ wants us to be internally free and unburdened.
Fears that are not recognized or dealt with lead to arguments in families, between strangers, and even to wars.
Fear underlies sin, because we are afraid we will be missing out on something, or afraid we will be deprived of something we think we need. Or missing out on some pleasure that propels us into sinful actions.
Fear of humiliation that can result in prideful and arrogant actions and attitudes.
Fear of rejection that can lead us to lash out and act harshly toward others.
Fear may not only be the cause of great evil in individuals, but also in our society and in our world. Fear may be the underlying motive of many of our governmental policies.
That's scary in itself.
"Fear not," Jesus said.
But should we be Pollyannas? Or should we be ostrich-like and bury our heads in the sand while missiles fly toward us?
No, of course not.
Jesus told His apostles not to be afraid of those who kill the body, but He didn't say that no one would try.
The point is to not let fear rule your life.
The way to not to be led by fear is to trust in God.
I'll be the last to say that was easy, but that's the challenge Christ gives us.
He assures us that no matter what happens, we are loved. Even the hairs on your head are counted.
Two sparrows are sold for a small coin. God knows even when one of them falls to the ground. And you are worth a whole flock of them.
There is another kind of fear we should have: The fear of losing our intimate relationship with Him.
If we have that kind of fear, we just might end up to be saints.