Stand Up, Do Not Be Afraid

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FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD
(White) Cycle A/Year I (August 6, 2017)
Dn 7:9-10, 13-14/ 2 Pt 1:16-19/Mt 17:1-9

One of the leading British playwrights in the name of George Bernard Shaw once said: “There is only one universal passion: fear.” Indeed, man is constantly enveloped with fear of something. The fact that there are many names of phobias proves it. Even Bertrand Russell, an English Mathematician and Philosopher, dared to conclude that fear is the source of some evil things in our society when he said: “Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty.”

Common to each of us, fear has been a natural part of our lives. To some, fear is a traumatic feeling especially when they have phobia for something. To others, fear has been a help in performing well their activities. Many do not like fear because they are paralyzed and cannot decide nor do anything when they experience such fear. Others are able to do silly things or even crimes out of fear. In general, fear is an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. William Shakespeare describes fear as condemnable when he said: “Of all base passions, fear is most accursed.” As such, fear is unhealthy and must be avoided.

The first message which Christ has given to His disciples and with them to all of us after God the Father has told them to listen to His Son is this: “Stand up, do not be afraid! (Mt 17:7b). As we have said, fear, except of the fear of God and of sin, demoralizes man since it hinders him to think well and to act naturally. God never wants us to be slaves of fear. He wants us to be free from any coercion of evil and sin and so He admonishes us always not to be afraid. That is the only message the transfigured Christ has for us. The same message Christ has for us after He has risen from the dead when He first appears to the women: “Do not be afraid! (Mt 28:10)” And when He appears to His apostles He constantly reminds them that fear must not anymore reign in their hearts when He says to them: “Peace be with you! (Jn 20: 19, 21, 26)”

As Christians, we must not be afraid since Christ, our Lord, is the Son of God and is God Himself. His transfiguration shows His divine glory and His resurrection confirms His divinity. Being human like us, Christ knows and feels our struggles, pains, problems, and insecurities. As God, He has the capacity to address all our needs as long as we seek His mercy and help. And as Lord and Savior, He will never abandon us but will help us in our needs. What is then the reason for us to be afraid if Christ is with us? St Paul says: “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rm 8:31)” and “For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rm 8:38, 39).

We must then be courageous to doing the Will of God. And courage, according to Mark Twain “is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” Certainly, we will always feel fear as we are human flesh. But one thing is to feel fear, and another is to be conquered by fear. When this happens, we will lose not only our capacity to think but also our willingness to fight and live. That is why Franklin Roosevelt tells us that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” As Christians, filled with the love and grace of Christ, we must rather conquer fear. Especially when it deals with sin or errors, we must be courageous to repent, ask forgiveness and leave them behind. Confucius says: “When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.”