I’ve heard that the phrases “Be not afraid,” “Fear not,” “Take courage,” and other variations, are in Holy Scripture / the Bible 365 times. I am guessing that in the Catholic Bible (which has seven more books) there are EVEN more references! (Here’s one source.)
In regards to sin… of what am I “afraid”? What do I “fear”?
Certainly, when I sin, I do not feel “afraid” nor “fear.” Instead, I feel “tempted.”
When I sin, I feel like I need something or like I need to do something. But really, I only want something. And that something is not good for myself and/or others. No matter how hard it may be to see that, and no matter how easy it may be to rationalize that that something is not.
SIN: an act that goes against God’s Will.
No matter how small (e.g., “venial”) or how big (e.g., “mortal), I am hurting God’s heart BECAUSE I AM HURTING MYSELF. And God is weeping for me, because He loves me (and His other children who I am hurting). Yes, via sin, I am always indirectly and/or directly hurting God, myself and others, since we are ALL connected.
BUT THEN I REMEMBER THIS…
God does NOT wants to control me or be “strict” with me, as if I am a robot! Rather, His desire is that I use my freedom to do what will NOT hurt me. He is THAT loving of a Father!
When I sin, yes, I AM afraid… I am afraid that if I cannot get what I want, I will not be able to function.
When I sin, I DO fear… I fear that if I cannot get what I want, I will not be able to be happy.
This Lent, I have come to ponder how my SINNING is the same as FEARING my own FEAR… fearing the very fear of my own lack of courage to do what is RIGHT… a very human tendency.
Sinning is fearing that if I do not get what I think I need… I will be helpless. But God wants to help me, and I hope that I can always trust, with childlike trust, that He knows what is BEST for me. In Isaiah 55:8, He tells me, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…”.
Virtue has never ever been deemed “easy.” It is much easier to live a mediocre, morally tepid, not-so-virtuous life. But God is calling me. And He’s telling me not to be afraid!
Not to be AFRAID of turning away from my tendency to go the easy route: to cling to sin.
Not to FEAR turning towards virtue: away from darkness and death, and into light and life.