2 Samuel 12:1-7a, 10-17
One of the most famous statements concerning fear is the message President Franklin Roosevelt gave the nation in 1933, when the country was struggling with the Great Depression. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself– nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Those words carne from a man in a wheelchair.
In today’s gospel we see the apostles terrified. They were experiencing the angry sea and they feared death by drowning. When Jesus awoke he rebuked them for both their fear and their lack of faith. What was it that they didn’t believe? It seemed they lacked faith in how total and how absolute was God’s love for them.
They continued in that fear until the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost and enlightened them of the meaning of the Cross and Resurrection. They came to realize that God’s love is so profound that He had his only Son die on the cross for all people. And they understood that God’s power was so infinite that even death could not quench it.
Sigmund Freud said, "Now bold one gets when one is sure of being loved ." Once the apostles were sure of God’s great love, they boldly went out to preach the gospel, in season and out of season. With courage they faced opposition, persecution and even death. They were no longer those frightened guys in the boat. They were converted from "retreat into advance."
The Russian philosopher, Nicolas Berdyaev said, "Fear is never a good counselor, and victory over fear is the first spiritual duty of a person."
If victory over fear is our first spiritual duty, then meditation on the passion of Christ is basic for a life of holiness.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.