Jn. 14: 1-12

Among the most persecuted people today are the Christians of Nigeria, who are constantly threatened by Islamist elements in that country. A woman survivor related how she and her family were abducted. The kidnappers told her father his family would be spared if he would rape his own daughter in front of his wife and the rest of the family. The father, a good Catholic, courageously bowed his head so that they could cut his head rather than betray his faith, his principles, and his love for his family.

The Lord Jesus has a resounding Easter message for us all: “Do not be afraid.” In today’s gospel, he tells us not to let our hearts be troubled but instead, to cling tenaciously to our faith in the Father and in him. Why did Jesus address the issue of fear? Did he know how fear paralyzes us, robs us of peace, and drives us to despair? St. Francis de Sales said that “with fear comes uneasiness, with uneasiness comes tiredness, and finally, weariness makes us give up our exercises of piety.”

There are many things that foment fear in our lives. Just watch the evening news or read today’s paper and you will find many reasons to be worried about your life and future. We also confront daily trials, big or small, that disturb us and try to defeat our instincts to survive. It may be sickness or family conflict, relationship problem, financial concerns, or insecurity at work, or persecutions and threats to life as our brothers and sisters in Nigeria experience.

Easter is not just an event. It must be the content of all our preaching. It must be the core of our lives. Easter is the lodestar that guides the course of our daily life, filling us with inspiration and determination. We need the Easter message and return to it again and again, to fight the creeping influence of fear and cowardice that enter our minds and hearts.

The Lord Jesus addressed the fear of his disciples and gave them his solemn promise that if they would only have faith in him, they will one day live in his Father’s house. He told them that if they were confused and in disarray, he would be “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He assured them that to see him, to know and believe in him, is to be connected to the Father. And those who believe in him will do great works in the world.

It is normal to be afraid; natural to be troubled. But it is unchristian to remain that way. The victory of Jesus gives us power to conquer our fears. The courage of martyrs inspire us to put our hope in the words of the Lord. We must stop glorifying our fears and start embracing peace and courage of the Risen One!