A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC
July 29, 2016
June 30, 2020
NOTES FROM DEACON PAREJA
June 21, 2020
“Do not be afraid.” If we are carrying worry with us, sometimes it is comforting to hear those words from Jesus. He knew we needed to hear those words. Jesus, who was human as well as divine, knew that some of us need to be reminded again and again not to worry. So many times in the Gospels we hear Jesus asking us not to worry. Three times in today’s Gospel we hear him saying, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus is a model for us in coping with anxiety and distress. There is a great lesson for us in how Jesus dealt with worry and distress.
How did Jesus overcome these challenges? What did he do to overcome his anxiety? By having faith in his heavenly Father and sharing the cause of his worry in prayer with the Father. We see a transformation in Jesus during his prayer. He began praying, “My soul is sorrowful even to death” (Matt 26:38) but when he concluded he prayed, “your will be done!” (Matt 26:42) That is what happens to us when we have faith in God and bring our anxieties to God in prayer. We should be transformed during prayer and receive strength from God to face what lies ahead. So when there are problems, have faith and pray! It is no surprise therefore that we hear Jesus criticizing the disciples when they were in the boat and they are afraid during the storm because their faith is weak.
Our scripture readings focus on faith and prayer being the foundation of strength for those who embrace it. Surely that strong faith and fervent prayer continued to support Jesus in all his difficulties, especially at the end of his life as he was martyred like all the prophets before him.
At this time, it doesn’t seem likely that we will be called to be martyrs by shedding our blood for our faith but in these times with so many distractions and temptations drawing us away from God and living by the Gospel we are called to be dry martyrs. A “dry martyr” has been described as witnessing to Jesus without being asked to shed our blood.
Dry martyrs are among us in many different ways.
Those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, and visit the imprisoned are all dry martyrs. Understanding what Jesus was trying to teach us during his ministry on earth and putting those teachings into daily practice are examples of how Jesus’ love for us is continued even today.
It’s amazing how a simple act of witnessing to Jesus can help others. Whether it be for the dry martyrdom of witnessing to Jesus publicly by the way we live our lives, or coping with any of the problems life can throw at us, Jesus would say, as he does three times in today’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid.”