May 22, 2020
Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. (Acts 18:9-18)
There are many times that Jesus comforted his disciples with the words, “Do not be afraid.”
By saying, “Do not be afraid,” Jesus acknowledged their vulnerability. People don’t like to admit when they are afraid. They prefer to pretend they can handle anything. Yet somehow, when Jesus said “Do not be afraid,” it brought comfort. He was really saying, “I understand that you are afraid, and I am here to help.”
In today’s reading, He said these words to Paul. The Jews Paul was trying to evangelize were turning against him. His confidence was shaken. Paul feared not only rejection, but possibly violence and death.
Jesus gave him permission to be afraid, but He did not want the fear to immobilize Paul. Rather, he wanted the fear and the knowledge that Jesus will be with him to fuel his work, to give him new energy and drive.
Jesus knows that we, too, are often afraid. He tells us, as he did Paul, to go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. We can roll up our sleeves and get back to the work of spreading the Gospel message, finding comfort in the fact that Jesus will be with us when we do.