Facing Our Fears

14 July 2007 Saturday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 49, 29-32 & 50, 15-26a. Matthew 10, 24-33 Facing our Fears

The first reading and the Gospel lies a basic feeling of fear. When Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers feared that Joseph would avenge their ill-treatment of them. They thought that Joseph had been holding a grudge against them, and waiting for their father’s death to get back at them. Similarly, the Gospel assured those who would follow Jesus that they should not be afraid of those who would reject or persecute them, for God would not forget anyone.

When we were afraid, we actually feared separation or disconnection. The brothers of Jesus feared that they would be disconnected from Joseph’s favor. That Joseph would withdraw his affection for them. In the Gospel, the would-be follower of Jesus might feel abandoned by God in the midst of persecution. How many of us felt that God forgot us when we were victims of gossip? How many of felt that God had abandoned us when our prayers were unanswered? How many of us felt that despite our being faithful mass goers, we still experienced dejection and failure?

Now, when feel these feelings, we discover a basic lack of trust. We become afraid when we do not trust the world or the people in it. We become frightened, terrified, panicky, alarmed, anxious, and worried. Some even become suspicious and intimidated by others. When we are intimidated, we think that the person might snob us, look on us condescendingly or take out their attention. Sometimes we would run away from intimate relationships because we believe people cannot be trusted. Often, we would be afraid that if we allow people to get close to us, they might hurt us deeply by leaving us. Perhaps we have been traumatized when we were young — we were abandoned by a member of a family or someone we loved left us.

The readings help us face our sense of distrust. The brothers talked about their fears to Joseph. When we are able to articulate and identify our fears, the fear loses its power and control over us. The disciples believed in the assurance that God never forgets us, that He sees everything we do, and thus, will not abandon us. Why? Because we are worth more than many sparrows. The more we assure ourselves that God’s love is never withdrawn, we can look at fear in the eye, and the power of fear over us fades. We learn to trust.

We can turn our fears into opportunities to build our trust in God and in others. The brothers have to trust in Joseph’s assuring promise that he would take care of them. “I would provide for you and your family,” he said. The disciple should trust the words of Jesus, “Every strand of hair is accounted for.” By embracing and transforming our fears into trust, we become stronger. We begin to see the world in a different light.

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