Fear Not and Trust in the Lord

Why would Our Lord say ‘Be not afraid’ to us so many times unless he wanted us to take him seriously in anxious times like these?

(photo: Marians of the Immaculate Conception)

While reporting from Afghanistan in 1897, Winston Churchill wrote, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

This new coronavirus pandemic isn’t the world’s first plague and it absolutely will not be the last.

Yes, everyone is suffering at this time. Some might be in a better position to weather this unprecedented situation but it still weighs heavily upon all of us ― fear, worry and despair can develop an existence of their own.

But remember this: Nothing will destroy the Catholic Church. Satan and his avid followers here on Earth will never destroy it. Why? Jesus says so (Matthew 16:17-19):

And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in Heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this Rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.’

Popes, potentates and pandemics may come and go but Christ’s Church will remain. We will be the last vestige of hope for humanity when the Final Judgment commences. Despite what the history of Protestantism teaches us, Jesus doesn’t change his mind. He never changes His mind. He can be trusted.

You can count on that. I do.

Imagine if we couldn’t say this. Imagine if God were arbitrarily omnipotent as Pope Benedict XVI described the Muslim view of God in his Sept. 12, 2006, University of Regensburg.

In the speech, the Pope drew out “the essential relationship between faith and reason.” He called the Blessed Trinity/Yahweh Logos ― Reason and Ration Itself. Allah, on the other hand, is Voluntas ― Unbridled Will. A capricious spirit that is unrestricted by logic or reason that acts upon whomever he wills at that moment without connection to anything else, going so far as to contradict himself and break his promises.

The true God, on the other hand, will never change his mind (Psalm 89:34, Hebrews 6:18-20).

Keep in mind that Blessed Francis-Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận was imprisoned by the Vietnamese communists in solitary confinement for 13 years. His jailers thought him too dangerous to be kept alive because he kept converting his guards. And yet the Church survived.

St. Catherine of Alexandria survived the ramblings and babbling of 50 pagan philosophers and remained unbroken enough to break the wheel upon which her torturers hoped to break her.

Tough-as-nails St. Mary MacKillop was excommunicated for accusing a priest of molesting a child. And yet the Church survived.

St. Bartholomew was skinned alive for his love of Christ. Both Sts. Paul and Dymphna were beheaded. Peter crucified upside-down. And yet the Church survived.

And now some people are crying, “Doom! Doom!” What would the above mentioned martyrs say if they could hear these people urging us to lose hope? Does any serious Christian truly believe that God had strengthen those ancient Christians whom Nero fed to the lions and lit aflame like so many candles would withdraw his munificent mercy now that the going is getting tougher? Impossible! I’d stake my faith on it — and so should you.

What would the nuns who taught us say if we told them of our current fears? They’d slap the sin out of us ― God bless them ― and tell us to straighten up and fly right. This pandemic is God calling us to a greater destiny. The sleeper must awake (Ephesians 5:14) for the time of the Bridegroom’s arrival is at hand. (Matthew 25:1-13).

The expression “Fear not!” appears 365 times in the Bible. Gabriel greets the Blessed Virgin Mary with these words. Jesus greets his Apostles after his Resurrection in the Upper Room in the same way (Luke 24:36-49). Why would he say it to us so many times unless he wanted us to take him seriously in times we feel overwhelmed and frightened?

Which is worse? The coronavirus or the Angel Gabriel appearing in all his winged glory before a young Jewish virgin who was the key to bringing about God’s Incarnation? When we fear, God has an answer for us all in Scriptures:

But now, this is what the Lord says —  He Who created you, Jacob, He Who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.’ (Isaiah 43:1)

These distractions mean nothing. They will come and go. Every generation has a cross to bear. Pick up yours and let’s show the pagans of what stern stuff we’re made. Make those nuns proud! Never give up! Never surrender! Always hope in God.