Do Not Be Afraid
Do not be afraid—I am with you! I am your God–let nothing terrify you!! I will make you srong and help you; I will protect you and save you. Isaiah 41:10
Remember? These are the first words Jesus spoke to his Apostles when he came to them in the upper room after his Resurrection, “Do not be afraid.” They were up in that room precisely because they were afraid. They were afraid that they, too, were in danger of paying the ultimate price for being followers of the Crucified One. They wanted to carry on, they wanted to believe and to continue spreading the good news that Jesus had taught them in their presence. And remember? It was after Jesus had ascended back to the Father, that the Holy Spirit descended upon them and they boldly stepped out onto the balconies of the house they were hiding in and began to preach the word of God in a multiplicity of languages. Most of them would, indeed, meet martyrdom, but they would no longer be afraid, because they knew that God was with them.
We, in our own day, have a lot in common with the people of Isaiah’s time. Though they did not experience him in the flesh, they believed that their savior would one day come. We have not known the Redeemer in the flesh, as the Apostles and the disciples did, yet we, too, believe, though we have not seen. In the passage from Isaiah, the people needed encouragement. They understood the prophet to be the mouthpiece of God. They did not doubt that the word of God had come to him and that he was passing it on to the people of God. They believed that the holiness and the will of God had been revealed to the prophets, in this case, Isaiah. They would have heard this message from the mouth of the prophet with great joy and consolation. Of course, they had proof of God’s fidelity in their traditions already. Moses, the father of the prophets, told countless stories of how the Jews had doubted, resisted, or feared that they had been abandoned by God in the desert. But, in every case, God remained faithful to them, provided for them, and protected them from themselves and their enemies.
We, too, in our weakness, sometimes fail in our fidelity to God. Sometimes, because we have recognized our own sinfulness, we have feared that God would abandon us. But, just as in Isaiah’s time, and in the time immediately after the Resurrection, and countless times over the history of the Church, God has always remained true to those who love him. It is a temptation of the Evil One to think that we are beyond God’s mercy, that he could never forgive the terrible things we have done. But God’s love is unconditional. Nothing we can do will prevent his love for us, if we but turn to him in humble contrition, recognizing that we are lost without him. As he promised, he will be with us. He will forgive us and he will make us strong. He will help us, protect us and save us, for we are his children. Do not be afraid then. He is with us!