Fear

Friends in Christ, in the first reading today, it says that one night Christ appeared to St. Paul who was evidently worried. Jesus said to him, ‘Do not be afraid.’ Many times, Jesus will say this, ‘Do not be afraid.’
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Fear, is a part of human life. Fear, is a shrinking back from evil, from a threat, from danger. If we think of an event that we once feared in our past, we will see that we don’t feel fear it now, because it is past and done. Only if events of our past can harm us today do we fear, but then it has become a present fear.
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There can be natural fears in our senses; for example the fear of being hurt. Or it could be a rationalized fear if it is an evil in the mind, for example fear of failing a test or fear of embarrassment.
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Because fear always is over a future evil that might happen, the evil that might befall us is in the imagination, which makes the threat seem present to us. The imagination might make the fear seem even closer or larger than it really is; that is called ‘inordinate fear.’ We have enlarged it. Or, the imagination can downplay a threat. An old person who is actually approaching death, may imagine death to be far off, and may have no fear of it, since distant evils are not really feared.
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Now fear can only come about, if we love something or someone because we fear losing something we love, whether it be our life, our health, our soul, or a person close to us. Love is the cause of fear, because the threat of its loss causes us to fear. People who do not love or who have nothing to lose can be fearless.
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Fear can lead us to pray, because when we fear harm that could come, either to our body or soul, we instinctively seek the help of another, especially God.
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Anxiety is a unique kind of fear; it is the fear of possible evils that are not clearly foreseen. Anxiety is difficult to overcome, because its object is ill-defined. It can be psychological or physiological. It can be due to something in our subconscious or something we do not understand.
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When Jesus tells us not to be afraid, he does not mean that all fears can be avoided. For example, we naturally fear death: he did. But St. Therese says, if we are never afraid, how can we exercise courage or patience? In order to become virtuous, there must be obstacles to overcome.
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So we are not cowards if, despite fear, we trust God and push on forward because it is the right thing to do. If we are doing it for the Lord and with him – then let there be fear, but let there be courage as well.

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