"I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him." - St. Teresa of Avila
(Gospel Text: JN 6:16-21)
When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea,
embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum.
It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.
When they had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat,
and they began to be afraid.
But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
They wanted to take him into the boat,
but the boat immediately arrived at the shore
to which they were heading.
In the Gospel, Jesus frightens his disciples, who see him walking on water. While none of us are fishermen, nor have we seen Jesus walking on stormy seas, each of us have our own fears to face. One of the biggest fears people have in life, whether they acknowledge it or not is the fear of change. Are you afraid of change or maybe the better question is; Are you afraid of changing?
It can be extremely easy for us to fall into routines and patterns. We get set in our daily ways, continually doing the same tasks without truly gaining anything from the experience. Whether or not we recognize it, this “routinization” is partially a fear of the unknown. Change and new experiences are not typically welcome.
It can be easy to be fearful – to close oneself off from others and differences. I believe change cannot occur by doing the ordinary, comfortable tasks of daily life. We only grow in our personal lives, social lives, and faith if we venture beyond what is comfortable. God has given each one of us a passion in life: there is some task that we excel at – some task, which we must complete to leave the world a better place than we found it. To discover our passion, and act upon it, we must continually step into the frightening unknown.
Keep this in mind always, the Lord did not promise us a luxury cruise or an easy ride. He did not ever say that it would be smooth sailing. Rather, he told his disciples on that solemn night before he died: "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." (John 16:33)
The disciples’ purpose in today’s gospel was to welcome the Risen Lord into their boat. Fear got in their way and they arrived at the shore before being able to welcome him. We cannot let fear be an excuse. We must take a step outside of our comfort zone. Windows of opportunity are only open for a short period of time. If we let our fear intimidate us and keep us from trying something new, we may never ignite the passion we have been given. True growth requires work. We must step into our fear to learn our purpose.
We will never reach the top if we don’t try. Be not afraid!