Tag Archives: Gospels

Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.

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It is easy to be discouraged. All we have to do is to make a fair and honest assessment of today’s culture from the news to pop culture. The evidence of a fallen world abounds and if we are honest and look ourselves the picture doesn’t look any better. We are fallen creatures in constant need of conversion, prayer and growth in faith, hope and charity.

As our culture becomes more and more secularized and the memory of a Christian West starts fading into the history it will become more and more difficult to abide by the side of the everlasting man. As Cardinal Francis George said:

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square”.

Yet many people who quote him often forget to quote what he says next:

His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

A time may come when Christianity will be brutally persecuted in the West, but it will not be the end. It will only be a new beginning. History has proven this over and over again from the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire to the persecution Orthodox Christianity by the Arian heretics during the early centuries of Christianity; from the persecution of the Catholic Church in England during the revolt of King Henry VIII to the brutal persecution of the priesthood during the French revolution, the Church has always emerged to pick up the pieces and stand for Truth and the Light of Christ.

A few weeks ago the teens from my parish were confirmed in their Catholic faith through the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. That is the laying of the hands and the infusion of the Holy Spirit into their hearts:

“Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit”.

Acts 19:6

“Therefore, let us leave behind the basic teaching about Christ and advance to maturity, without laying the foundation all over again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, instruction about baptisms and laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And we shall do this, if only God permits”.

Hebrew 6:1-3

Confirmation is one of the most beautiful modern rite of passage. It is an opportunity for teens not only to learn about their Christian faith but also to take ownership of their Faith. The catechism of the Catholic Church explains it very beautifully:

“Confirmation…gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross…”

CC paragraph 1303

This is a call to boldly confess the name of Christ and to never be ashamed of the Cross. This can be especially hard for Christians today because it is such a counter cultural statement to profess the sanctity of life, the beauty of chastity as a single and as a married person, to defend the poor, the weak and the dying and to promote the reference to that which is holy.

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God gives us the graces to accomplish all these things through the Holy Spirit. The question is:

What are we going to do with the Graces that God has given us?

There can only be two answers to this question: either we take these graces seriously and become saints or ignored them and become indifferent. Indifference always leads to death.

Indifference implies certain a level of understanding, for you can’t be indifferent about things that you know. For Christian indifference mainly arises out of willful ignorance because people are afraid of genuinely committing to understand because they know what it will demand of them. After all Jesus said:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. He gave us everything and yet we are hesitant of giving anything back.

Mathew 16:24-25

These are tough words! But he also said talking to Peter, who was sinking in the middle of a storm:

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Mathew 14:27

He is speaking to you and me today as he was speaking to his disciples:

Be not afraid of your own weakness because He will be there to strengthen you.

Be not afraid of your own ignorance because He will be there to enlighten you.

Be not afraid of your own impurities because He will be there to purify you.

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

He also says:

Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.* And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Mathew 28:18-20

He promised us to be with us until the end of the age!

He is really there in the Holy Eucharist, His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity. Just waiting for you!

He is there when we go to Confession; when the Priest says: “I absolve you of your sin”. That is Christ telling you: “I absolve you of your sins”.

He is there preaching the gospel to all nations through His Church.

He is there in the silence of your heart. When you say: father, please show me the way because I don’t know.

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Mathew 14:27

This is how we are able to boldly proclaim his name and never be ashamed of the Cross because he is always going to be with us!

As we look forward to the Week that changed the world, let us look at Him on the Cross, look at his tortured body, at his pierced holy hands, at the wound in his chest from which blood and water pour for the salvation of the world…and listen, just listen to him…

He yearns for you.
He did it for you.
How can you be afraid?