We come into the world with clean minds and clean hearts. We come into the world totally connected with our inner spirit. We come into the world totally connected with God.
As we grow up, we pick up wrong messages from the media and the adults around us. We pick up negative messages about ourselves. We pick up wrong messages about who we are and what we can become.
As we grow up, these negative messages often contribute to our unhappiness and our fears. These erroneous messages often contribute to our self–destructive fears.
Fear is so pervasive in our lives that we live in a world of fear. We have the fear of living. We have the fear of dying. We have the fear of having too much. We have the fear of having too little. We fear the past. We fear the next year. We give in to our fears.
Fear is the cause of many of our behaviors. We put people down because we fear they will hurt us. We distance ourselves from others because we fear they will judge us. We distance ourselves from God because we fear he will judge us.
We often fear to speak out passionately in defense of human life. We fear to speak out in defense of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
We often fear to speak out and be faithful to our call to stand for religious liberty. We have inappropriate sexual relationships because we fear we are not lovable. We do not get married because we fear permanent commitments.
We do not have a church wedding ceremony because we fear failure. In fear, we fail to protect the sanctity of marriage. We simply cohabitate because we fear the wedding ceremony is a waste of time and money.
We do not speak up and do not speak out because we fear it will not win us approval. We do not express our Christian viewpoints because we fear they will not be accepted. We fear making mistakes and fear looking foolish. We live in fear.
We operate out of fear. We are dishonest in the present because we fear punishment. We cheat in examinations because we fear failure. We do not plan for the future because we fear there may well be no future.
Women more than men are often afraid they will ask for too much. They are afraid of not being attractive. They are afraid of being unworthy. They are afraid of being hurt. They are afraid of being ignored.
Women more than men are often afraid being abandoned. They are afraid of being rejected. They are afraid of not being supported. They are afraid of being forgotten. They are afraid of not being good enough.
Men more than women are often afraid they will not get a lucrative job. They are afraid they will not achieve. They are afraid they will not earn enough. They are afraid they will not climb the corporate ladder.
Men more than women are afraid they will not succeed on the job. They are afraid they will not be able to put bread on the table. They are afraid they will not win out there in our competitive world.
God tells Jeremiah (1:17), “Do not be afraid.” He tells him to stand firm in delivering his message to the people of Judah. He is to face his fears. He is to erase his fears. He is to be fearless in responding to his call.
Jesus said we need to face our fears. We need to admit our fears. We need to confess our fears. We need to understand our fears. We are not helpless victims.
Jesus said, no matter what fears you may have, “Do not be afraid.” God is in the mess. God is in your fears. God is in your pain. God is in your suffering. God is there to bless you. God is there to help you.
The priest says to you at Mass, “The Lord is with you.” He is close. His words give us courage. We celebrate that we are not alone. The Lord is risen. He is here with you. Do not be afraid.
“When the doors were locked, where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (John 20:19).
Msgr. Thomas J. Morgan is the retired pastor of St. Thomas More and St. Mary parishes, Cherry Hill.