REFLECTION: Fear and no fear PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 January 2015 11:38

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

We have to know when to be afraid and when not. We have to distinguish between a good fear and a bad fear, a healthy one and a sick one. We need to know how to handle and deal with our fears that are unavoidable in our life.

Fear is an emotion that we need to educate also. It just cannot be on its own, guided only by our spontaneous judgments and reactions, and appearing when it’s not supposed to, and not appearing when it’s supposed to. It has to be grounded and oriented properly, expressing the sublimity of our dignity as persons and children of God.

Let’s remember that among the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the fear of the Lord. It’s the good and healthy fear of a child who is afraid to offend his father. It’s a filial fear, not a servile one. It’s one that, instead of being tempted to run away from God, would rather motivate one to get closer to him. It’s the fear of losing God, even if we may have offended him and have to do something to atone and repair.

It’s the fear that we should foster, especially these days when we see a lot of people who are not afraid anymore to offend God. Though to be fair, we can also say that many do not fear God anymore because in the first place they don’t know him. No one fears what he doesn’t know.

Look at little children. They have to be watched closely because in their carefree spirit of playing and running around, they do not know the many dangers that can befall them. In a sense, they have no fear, which is why we have to watch them closely.

There are, of course, those who do not fear God because they don’t believe in him. This is reflected in one of the psalms: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God above.’” (52)

Lastly, there are those who lose the fear of the Lord because they think they can escape or hide from him. It’s kind of a funny predicament to be in, but actually many fall under this category. For sure, it’s the devil’s work, supported by one’s weaknesses and self-inflicted delusion.

We have to contend with these possibilities and wage a battle of love and peace, of truth and charity, with a lot of patience to boot. Prayers, heroic sacrifices are definitely needed, but concrete, doable plans on how to tackle these problems should also be made.

We have to avoid pursuing this course with bitterness. Instead, we have to do it with utmost delicacy, bothering ourselves as much as possible to be correct politically, socially, humanly, without compromising the truth

But there are also occasions when we should lose our fear too. In the gospel, there are many instances when Christ would tell his disciples: “Do not be afraid.” Those were when the greatness of the spiritual and supernatural character and power of Christ was made manifest.

Or, said in another way, when the limitations of our nature could not grapple with the transcendence of the divine, when our faith could not yet get a safe footing before certain mysteries.

That’s what happened, for example, when the apostles were tossed by a rough, stormy sea in a boat with Christ simply sleeping. Or when the disciples saw Christ walking on the water. They were scared. They thought they were seeing a ghost.

We have to learn to lose our fear in these cases, allowing our faith to make that leap in the dark that is integral to it. That is the secret. Many times Christ had to castigate his disciples for their lack of faith. “O man of little faith,” he would repeat often.

Instead of fear, what we would have would be awe when we have our faith alive and vibrant. Though it may have some freezing effect, awe actually attaches us with God. Not so with fear. Fear makes us to run away from God.

We have to little by little be accustomed to the mysterious and awesome ways of God. To be sure, we will never feel totally at home with his inscrutable ways. He will always manage to pull some surprises. But, yes, to a certain degree we can get acquainted with them such that we would be left in awe instead of falling into fear.

It’s an awe that would not deter us but rather would launch us into a generous and even heroic correspondence to his love and goodness.