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How to Be Afraid

No one likes to experience fear. It’s not pleasant, and it’s not our natural state. But it’s a part of life – our instinctive response to fear can be a lifesaver in times of danger.

Two meanings of the word “fear” are featured in this week’s Gospel reading from Luke. Both are important.

The first meaning suggests the kind of fear we experience watching horror movies, or when we are alone in the house at night and hear a strange noise. We see this in Luke’s warnings of the frightening times ahead. But Luke also includes another kind of ‘fear’ – fear of God, which refers to an attitude of awe. This kind of fear is defined as an overwhelming reverence for and admiration of that which is grand, sublime, and powerful.

We can sometimes be like the people of ancient times who believed the universe revolved around the earth. We may think we are the centre of things and that God spirals around us, answering our prayers, making us peaceful, making our side win the football match, finding us a parking space and so on. Nothing is wrong with any of these, but the truth is: God does not circle around us in order to help us; God is centre of everything, and we circle around God.
We owe loving reverence to such a Being, and that is the second meaning of the word fear. We bow down before the God who quietly maintains everything in existence: galaxies, lands, cities, humans, butterfly wings, hearts, and most definitely, souls.

Why would we let anything else serve as the absolute centre of our life?solar system

Extracted and adapted reflection on this week’s readings by Fr. John Foley S. J.


Lismore Anglican Parish Bulletin Insert   Sun 17th Nov 2013  Lismore 9.30am

      Luke 21: 5-19

Luke 21: 5-19

The Destruction of the Temple Foretold

5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’

Signs and Persecutions

7 They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ 8And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.

9 ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ 10Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 ‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.