(José Antonio Pagola)
When our heart isn’t filled with a strong love or a firm faith, our life easily ends up at the mercy of our fears. Sometimes it’s the fear of losing prestige, security, comfort or well-being that keeps us from making decisions. We don’t dare to risk our social position, our money or our small happiness. Other times the fear of not being welcome paralyzes us. The possibility of ending up alone, without friendship or people’s love terrorizes us. We don’t want to face daily life without anyone’s close company.
Often we’re just worried about being okay. We’re afraid of being ridiculed, of confessing our true convictions, of giving testimony to our faith. We fear criticism, gossip and rejection by others. We don’t want to be categorized. Other times the fear of the future seeps in. We don’t clearly see our next step. We have no security at all. Maybe we don’t trust anyone. Facing tomorrow makes us afraid.
It’s always a temptation to seek a safe harbour in a religion that removes all our fears, uncertainties, anxieties. But it would be wrong to see faith as an easy cop-out for wishy-washy, cowardly and frightened people. Trusting faith in God, when rightly understood, doesn’t lead the believer to escape one’s responsibility in the face of problems. It doesn’t lead us to flee conflicts in order to close ourselves comfortably in isolation. On the contrary, it’s faith in God that fills our heart with power to live more generously and more bravely. It’s living trust in the Father that helps us to overcome cowardice and fear in order to more boldly and freely defend God’s Reign and God’s justice.
True faith doesn’t make people cowardly, it makes them resolute and daring. It doesn’t close believers in on themselves, but opens them up to the problematic and conflictive sides of living from day to day. It doesn’t wrap us into laziness and comfort, but encourages us to be committed. When we listen in our heart to Jesus’ words: «Don’t be afraid», we’re not being called to evade our commitments, but are strengthened by God’s power to confront them.
Association of Catholic Priests, Ireland