“Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.” Fear is something that we think of frequently and experience often. Fear imprisons us – it is a self-imposed sentence that renders us helpless, hopeless, useless. Fear can cripple us and fill us with doubt. Fear can depress us and cause us to despair. Fear can overwhelm us and lead us to desolation. In situations we dread, our faith is shaken – tested. We run away from God, we lock ourselves up, we hide hoping that the world changes or goes away. How often do your own fears keep you from God, from loving him and more importantly from being loved by him? Fear can blind us to the truth, make us deaf to God’s voice, keep our hearts from resting in the peace of knowing that Jesus is at our side. Fear is like the empty tomb. When the “angel of the Lord descended from heaven… the guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men” and he said to the women, “Do not be afraid!” The disciples also were full of fear on Easter Sunday; a day meant for rejoicing and gladness. However, they imprisoned themselves, locked the doors and sat in fear, in doubt, in despair, in desolation. Jesus gently comes into their situation and says, “Peace be with you.” If we invite him and trust in his grace, Jesus comes to our moments of distress and reminds us there is nothing to fear, not even death because he conquered it so be at peace. So what are you afraid of? Rejection, embarrassment, having no money, being alone, darkness, being taken advantage of, being beat up, being made fun of, making mistakes, being different? Jesus says, peace be with you. Look at my hands, look at my feet, look at my side, put your hands in my wounds. Everything is healed – be at peace. What could separate us from the love of God? Nothing but our sins and our fears and even then, Christ will breathe new life into us; helping us to overcome our fears and bring his peace into our lives and into the world. So rejoice and be glad for “by his wounds you have been healed.” By his Cross, you have been redeemed. Through his death, you have been given new life. In the Father’s love, you are at peace.
Fourth Sunday of Easter