Main Text: Matthew 1:18-25 (Isaiah 7:10-16; Romans 1:1-7)

The 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.