Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

For a period of time, there was a brand of clothing that many young people were wearing. It was called No Fear. The name conveyed an attitude that one could do anything fearlessly. In a world of danger and violence, this could be alarming. But in a world of faith and unity centered on Jesus Christ, it can and must be the motto for living.

One of the most unpleasant human emotions is fear. We fear losses, suffering, helplessness and, worst of all, the unknown. We see all of these deepest fears coming together in the lives of the disciples in our Gospel story today. One can’t imagine a more fearful situation in the darkness of night than to be in the midst of a storm in a little boat and to see an image of someone walking on the water coming toward you. The fear must have been tremendous.

Nonetheless, Peter gets out of the boat and attempts the impossible. As long as Peter focuses on Jesus, there is no fear. It is only when Peter gets distracted by the wind and waves that fear enters in and he begins to sink. Even then, the loving hand of Jesus is extended to him and he pulls Peter to safety. This action not only reinforces Peter’s relationship to Christ, but also his faith in Christ.

We need to be honest with ourselves about the fears of our lives. Some people share similar fears – losses, suffering and helplessness. But there are many other types of fear – the effects of age, debilitating diseases, depression, doubts, being able to make a living, keeping our children safe, the future and, one of the biggest fears of all, death. So much of our fear is wrapped up in the unknown.

The fears of life, no matter what they are, can dissipate when we know God. We come to know his presence by knowing who he is, what he does and what he has planned for us. For Christians, this happens in a wonderful way through Jesus. Through Jesus, God reveals himself to us and forms a loving relationship with us. Through Jesus we know God and recognize his presence and power in our life. Those who don’t know God try to find him in great signs like wind, fire, and earthquakes, but he won’t be there. Through Jesus we come to know God like Elijah, recognizing him in the tiny whispering sounds of life, the beauty of life, and the simple things of life. It is there that God reveals his love to us, knowledge about his Kingdom, and how to live our life and carry our crosses.

If we know God and recognize him, then, like Peter, we can walk in faith on the troubled waters of life. In the midst of troubles we can know peace, because we do not live in fear. We do not fear suffering, loss or helplessness. We do not fear the future. We do not even fear death, not because of our own power but because when we know God, we know our future, we know our value and we know what awaits us.

Maybe the phrase No Fear should be the logo for all Christian clothing. It is the perfect motto for Christian living. With our eyes fixed on Christ we must have No Fear of whatever life throws at us. And if some fear sneaks in, we can trust that Jesus has an outstretched hand to catch us and tell us not to fear, for he is always with us.

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