SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - The Problem of Fear
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CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - A man stopped by a policeman for driving without a taillight became visibly distressed. The policeman said, "Don't take it so hard; I am only doing my job giving you this ticket." "Sorry, officer," the man replied, "What worries me is what's happened to my wife and my trailer?"
Another man went to the doctor for his annual physical. When he returned home, his wife noticed that he was troubled and anxious. "What's the matter, dear?" asked the man's wife. "The doctor told me that I would have to take a pill every day for the rest of my life." "That's nothing to be upset about," said his wife. "There are a lot of people that have to take medication for the rest of their lives." "Yes, dear, I understand," said the man. "But the doctor only gave me one pill."
Life is filled with many difficulties and challenges that cause us to be fearful. Each day we are confronted with many events that may cause us to become apprehensive. Going to a new school; starting a new job; having to take the car in for repairs on the busiest day of the week; dealing with a computer virus; missing an important deadline at work; getting laid off from work; coping with a child's sudden illness; these are just some of the many things that happen each day that may cause us to be filled with fear, sick with apprehension.
This Sunday's gospel narrative gives us a clear teaching on how we are to handle fear. "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12: 32).
What is fear? Fear is defined as "an unsettledness of soul consequent upon the apprehension of some present or future danger." However, while a normal type of fear prevents us from doing dangerous things; abnormal fear paralyzes the human soul.
Many doctors and psychologists can tell us that abnormal fear is a disintegrating adversary of the human personality. People controlled by their fears are disturbed during the day and haunted at night. Abnormal fear tangles the mind with terrible obsessions. It saps vital energy from the body and the soul, and it destroys the presence of inner peace.
The remedy for fear is faith. This Sunday's second reading describes faith as "the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of the things not seen" (Hebrews 11: 1).
Security is not found in the things of this world. Assuredness can only be found in God. This is the message of this Sunday's gospel narrative. "Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is there also will your heart be" (Luke 12: 33-34).
Many people attempt to find comfort and security in a luxurious home, lots of money, unlimited access to credit, or a big promotion at work. Only God can provide the security that we need so that we can handle the many challenges and difficulties that come our way each day.
Without a doubt, we live in a very difficult world. It is very easy to succumb to the darkness of fear. But, this is where we have been given an excellent opportunity to grow in holiness. Let God sit in the driver's seat. Give him the keys. Let him take over.
While a family was vacationing in Europe, they found that they needed to drive three days continuously, day and night, to get to Germany. So, they all got into the car - Mom, Dad, and their three year old daughter.
The little daughter had never traveled at night before. She was scared the first night in the car, seeing only the deep darkness outside the window.
"Where are we going, Daddy?" "To your uncle's house, in Germany." "Have you been to his house before?" "No." "Then, do you know the way?" "Maybe, we can read the map." Short pause. "Do you know how to read the map?" "Yes, we will get there safely."
Another pause. "Where are we going to eat if we get hungry before arriving?" "We can stop at restaurants if we are hungry."
"Do you know if there are restaurants on the way?" "Yes, there are."
"Do you know where?" "No, but we will be able to find some."
The same dialog was repeated several times during the first night and also the second night. But on the third night, his daughter was quiet. The dad thought that she might have fallen asleep, but when he looked into the mirror, he saw that she was awake and was just looking around calmly.
He couldn't help wondering why she was not asking the questions anymore. "Dear, do you know where we are going?" "Germany, Uncle's house." "Do you know how we are getting there?" "No." "Then why aren't you asking anymore?" "Because Daddy is driving."
Because Daddy is driving. This answer from a three year old girl's point of view then became the source of strength and help for these parents during the many years following whenever they had questions and fears on their journey with the Lord. Yes, our Father is driving. We may know the destination (and sometimes we may just know it as the child knew it -- "Germany", without understanding where or what it really is.)
We do not know the way; we do not know how to read the map; we do not know if we will find restaurants along the way.
But the little girl knew the most important thing -- Daddy was driving -- and so safe and secure she knew that her daddy would provide all that she needed (http://www.inspiration.com).
Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.
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