Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Jesus had just raised to life Lazarus, the brother of Mary, a friend of Jesus. This unheard-of act of raising the dead lead people to believe in Jesus. Everyone was witnessing Jesus’ signs and miracles, some of the Jews were believing in Him, but some were resisting belief with every ounce of strength.
Since Jesus didn’t fit Pharisees’ expectations of the Messiah, they were preoccupied with his origin and where he was from. Others chose to be ruled by their fear, saying, “If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, then the Romans will come and take away our land and nation.” Theirs may have been a legitimate fear, but we have to be aware of how fear can dictate and control our lives. Fear and worries tend to paralyze us and prevent us from following God and being led by God’s peace.
In my six years as Conception Abbey’s Vocation Director, I saw how fear and hesitation impacted those who were discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life. Vocation candidates could be preoccupied with how others might react to their decision. They feared that if they gave God their unconditional “yes” with no strings attached, that God would demand too great a sacrifice, or abandon them sometime in the future.
Sometimes our fears are well-founded and of legitimate concern, but at other times they are irrational and hold us captive. Fr. Jacques Philippe wrote, “Projecting things into the future crushes us, not experiencing suffering but anticipating it. As if today’s suffering weren’t enough, we add regrets about the past and worries for the future! It’s no surprise we feel overwhelmed.”
Jesus calls us to be men and women of faith and to follow His example to act with boldness and conviction in following the will of the Father. Pope Francis encourages us not to fear and reminds us that it is the fainthearted who “always go backward, who guard themselves too much.” They are the ones “who are afraid of everything.” Let us put on the confidence that God is with us, lest fear lead us to lose heart.
Reflection Question: What fears are arising in my heart, and how is God asking me to place my trust in Him?
Reflection by Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB