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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fear and Faith

"When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, 'Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.'” Lk 5:8

Fear is a complex emotion. Absolutely necessary at times, especially when we are in physical danger and need to escape quickly, it is also an emotion that causes us to turn away from people, places and situations that are challenging. The mentally ill, for instance, can frighten us because we don't understand what they are saying or how they are acting, and we can be afraid of leaving a hotel in a new country even if we are assured that the area is safe. Not knowing where we are can be overwhelming.

Like he so often does, St Peter helps us in this regard. The Gospels portray him as a man quick to act and speak, especially when he is unsure of what is happening to him or around him. When Jesus suggests the disciples cast their nets to a different side of their boat, Peter is perplexed but submissive, and when the nets are filled to overflowing, Peter asks the Lord to leave, very much like a leper or a sinner might tell someone not to come near them because of their sinfulness. But Jesus, recognizing Peter's anxiety, tells him not to be afraid.

The message is clear. We cannot let fear or shame about our own sins and faults keep us from the Lord. Jesus tells his new disciples that they will be catching men and women if only they listen to him, accept his directives and follow him on the road to Jerusalem. This same invitation is ours if only we put our fear in the Lord's hands and follow.

Today, acknowledge your fear and stand still.

Which of your fears is most disabling in your call to discipleship?

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