Illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Luke 21: 5-19
“Be not afraid,” the song tells us. When reading the Gospels, we find Jesus often told his followers not to be afraid whenever they became frightened and fearful about something.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the temple being destroyed and the eventual destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus also talks about many frightening things happening – buildings being destroyed, wars starting, earthquakes erupting and people suffering from starvation, sickness and pain. Jesus was actually talking about the end of the world when he will come back in power and majesty.
When the people asked him when this would happen, Jesus didn’t give an exact day or time but said, “Do not be afraid. Before all this happens, many will suffer because they are my followers. I will give them courage, strength, and wisdom; they will be rewarded for their faith and goodness by my heavenly father.”
The main point of this Gospel is that Jesus will give us the wisdom we need to follow him. In the midst of all the frightening things mentioned above, or on what is happening around us, our focus should not be on these things but on how we respond. Through our baptism and confirmation, we were consecrated and called to carry on Jesus’ mission and ministry in our time and in our particular place. As Christians, then, we are to respond with the words, wisdom, and love of Jesus to everything happening around us – both good and bad – to bear witness to Jesus in our words and actions – loving others, forgiving others, caring, helping, and healing others and patiently accepting our own sufferings and crosses. Jesus says, “By your perseverance, you will save your lives.”
Jesus never said as his followers we would be free from suffering and scary things happening. But Jesus promises, no matter what, that he will be with us always to help us deal with our problems, struggles, and difficulties with hope and courage. He wants us to live in peace and trust until he comes again.
At Mass, in the prayer following the Our Father, the priest prays, “Lord, keep us free from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
We are to live “in joyful hope.” “Be not afraid!”