December 22nd (4th Sunday of Advent): “Do Not Be Afraid”
Main Text: Matthew 1:18-25 (Isaiah 7:10-16; Romans 1:1-7)
greatest challenge to faith is not doubt but fear. This is why the scriptures
instruct us not to fear. Of course, choosing not to fear is impossible.
Training oneself to overcome fear, however, is what allows some people to
engage and move through fear while others become incapacitated or lose their
judgement. King Ahaz was paralyzed by fear that outside forces were going to
overcome his kingdom. He was so afraid that he invested all Israel’s resources
in military protection. When even that did not work to give him security, he
began making deals with these foreign powers in order to secure his place
rather than look to God. Unfortunately, it came at the high cost of the people.
His decisions were grounded in fear and not in faith or hope. Paul reminds us
we are called to the obedience of faith. The opening of Matthew’s gospel has
Joseph pondering dismissing Mary. His reasons were both grounded in fear and
tradition. His fear was for Mary. The angels first words to him were, “do not
be afraid.” As we look forward to a new beginning that we can not clearly see,
may we also grow in our obedience of faith in order to overcome our fear. Let
us wake up, bathe in God’s baptismal grace, put on the armor of light and move
forward patiently and overcome our fear according to the Spirit as we receive
the fullness of God’s plan in Jesus Christ.