We live in confusing times, where truth is often hidden, and even leaves people doubting. Our doubt—in faith—can keep us in the shadows, unable to tell our story of faith.
So it was with the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus. Those who walked with Him were cowering behind closed doors, many of them questioning if they have been living a lie the last few years.
In today’s Gospel we hear about the two disciples who scurry off to Emmaus. They were hoping Jesus was the redeemer, but when He died, their hopes were lost, until their faith was rekindled by Jesus on the way to Emmaus.
The Apostles and disciples in Jerusalem too were afraid, until Jesus came with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Their fear was transformed into courage to speak truth to all, not counting the cost! We see this in a dramatic way in Peter, standing before all the people, confidently proclaiming Jesus. Yes! The same Peter who denied his Savior three times not so long before, was made a new man through forgiveness received (Peter, do you love me more than these – John 21:15), and the gift of the Holy Spirit given by Jesus.
The definition of fear is, “unpleasant emotion caused by belief someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” (Merriam Webster)
Most of the time our fears are ’caused by a belief’ that something will happen that is unpleasant. We can be afraid of failing so much that we do not pursue our dreams. We can be afraid to tell the truth to our parents because we do not want to suffer the consequences of our actions. We can be afraid to stand up to the bully because we do not want to be the next target. We can be afraid to stop and help someone because we don’t think our friends will understand. Unfortunately, if we live this way, we can miss opportunities for living fully fulfilled lives, blocking opportunities to profess our faith through our thoughts, words and deeds.
An acronym that helps us to remember the next time we feel afraid:
That’s right. False evidence appearing real. If we allow our minds to race, and we choose to follow the emotion of our fears, we can act out in ways that have no proof that harm will actually result. Our fears also need to be tempered in love. Peter was understandably afraid when people pointed him out as a follower of Jesus, to the point he did what he would never consider doing in normal circumstances. What made the difference?
With the help of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of courage, he could decide to love at all costs, like Jesus. And he did. This is why he had the courage to stand up before many of the same people that confronted him in the night of Jesus’ arrest, but this time boldly profess his faith. The Holy Spirit helped him to choose love, not only for Jesus, but for all, that those he spoke to would also turn to Christ.
What keeps you from living your faith without reserve or fear? Do you want to live as a real disciple? Unafraid? There is a way, and most likely, you already have the key; perhaps you just don’t realize it.
Each of us are like the disciples at Emmaus, who although they followed Jesus, had not yet received Him fully into their hearts; it wasn’t until they saw the breaking of the bread and Jesus’ disappearance that they realized their hearts were on fire as they heard the scriptures explained to them. For us to be real disciples of Jesus, we have to have that moment when we too recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread (Eucharist) and in the preaching of His World (Reading the Bible). That is why the Mass is so important for us; it prepares and readies us to be like the transformed Peter, shattering our fears, real and otherwise, and courageously proclaim our faith in the crucified and risen Lord, Jesus.
May God bless you!