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Managing Fear

I was on vacation in Maine, and I went to the other side of the lake to catch the evening hatch. As I was walking along, I turned off the flashlight to see how far I would walk. It was dark. Close your eyes…that is how dark it was without street lights. The dirt road was straight without turns so I thought I could still make it back to the camp. I took two steps and the thought entered my mind that I could walk off the road, I didn’t want tree branches to cut up my face, so I held my hands in front of my face. I took a few more steps and I thought, “What if I walk off the road and fall into a ditch?  I could sprain my ankle and ruin my vacation. So I started to shuffle very slowly while my hands were in front of my face. Then I heard a twig snap. “That has to be a bear. I bet that bear sees me and is charging toward me.” When I pictured the bear on its hind legs ready to pounce on me, I had enough and I turned on the flashlight. An amazing thing happened when I turned on the light–all the fear went away. The bear that was in front of me had disappeared, and so had the branches and ditches. I did what I needed to do to cast off the fear.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples numerous times not to be afraid. That means we need to do what is necessary to cast off our fears.

When I was in my doctorate program I had to face the greatest fear of my life–comprehensive exams. This is what I did.  I wrote down every possible question I could be asked about the New Testament. Next, I read a stack of books until I had all the answers to those questions. When the day finally came, I did not fear because I was basking in the light of knowledge.

One of our seminarians, Miggo, ran the Boston Marathon. I watched him run by just before the finish line. After I saw him I thought, “I can do this. I am in good shape.” So not long after I ran six miles. I barely made it back. I thought, “I can’t run 26 miles because I can’t even run 6 miles.” So this is what I did. I went to the seminarian who ran the marathon and he gave me a workout training schedule for marathons. Every day I did exactly what it suggested. Six months later, my toe crossed the start line of my first marathon and I knew without a doubt that the same toe would soon cross the finish line. I did what I needed to do to cast away the fears and doubts.

The reason why we are Christian is because we believe that we can do great things and make a big difference. With great and big things come fears and doubts. Jesus today tells us that we need to cast off the doubts and fears that stop us from doing great things. We need to do the things that are necessary.  

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