At that time: So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.
I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
“Do not be afraid.” (Luke 12:17) We sing these words so often; I probably know them by heart:
If you pass through raging waters, In the sea, you shall not drown. If you walk amidst the burning flames, You shall not be harmed. If you stand before the pow’r of hell And death is at your side,Know that I am with you, through it all.
Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come follow me, And I will give you rest.
—Text & Tune © 1975 Robert J. Dufford, SJ and New Dawn Music
“Be not afraid.” What do these words mean in our daily lives? I was particularly struck recently by the faith of James Foley, Marquette ‘96, who was beheaded by ISIS members earlier this year. Foley’s words spoken when he was held prisoner several years ago in Libya resound in my memory: “Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic.
“I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.” What a testament to Foley’s faith in Christ, and how prayer, especially the rosary joined him with those praying for his release.
What fears do I face each day? How can my faith in Christ and prayers to His mother help me allay my fears, as they helped James Foley?
―George Penman Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found Chicago’s Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and three grandchildren.
Asked what his greatest strength is, newly-named Chicago Archbishop Cupich replied: “That I’ve been raised with a very palpable sense of the presence of Christ in my life.”
I pray that Christ’s presence in my life may help me overcome the fears I encounter each day, and strengthen me in difficult times.Through my prayers and the prayers of others may I come to know I am not alone. If I but follow Christ, he will give me rest. Amen.