We’ve said in this series that most of the time, life is going in the right direction, but every once in a while, we need a “180” which Jesus can do in our lives. In Jesus Christ, we can stand before God’s final judgment without fear. Last week we spoke of the transformative healing that Jesus can provide. Today, we are speaking about courage and moving from fear to bravery. All of us want to be brave or courageous, but if we’re honest we often act out of fear. Read Romans 8:12-17. In this passage, St. Paul is contrasting between life according to the flesh, and life according to the Spirit. The self-centered life of the flesh leads to death, but the Spirit leads to life. When we live and act according to the promptings of the Spirit, we are acting as the sons and daughters of God that we’re meant to be. Paul says, “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” (Rom 8:15). In our lives we are going to continually experience fear, but there is a difference between the emotion of fear, and “falling back” into a life of fear, where our lives and decisions feel enslaved or paralyzed by fear. When we live as God’s sons and daughters, our lives as a whole will not be characterized by fear. Here’s what we should do: when we are afraid, we should stop and cry, “Abba, Father!”, focusing our attention on God. When we do this, our fear diminishes, because we realize that God is our Father, and therefore He is for us. In whatever situation we find ourselves, we can have confidence that God will help us in the end. We are heirs of a great promise, even as we suffer, and no doubt we will all suffer in life. Suffering is often what we fear, but because God is our Father, we can trust that He will guide us through the bad times. A practical challenge: this week, if you find yourself in a situation in which you are afraid – maybe facing a boss, spouse, an illness, etc. – to change your focus away from that fear, to God our Father, and to rely on the promise and the protection of Him who is all powerful and is always for us. Questions for Small Groups:
When was the last time you were afraid? What did you fear?
How do you usually handle fear?
When was the last time you were brave or courageous? What were the circumstances?
Read aloud Romans 8:15. What does this verse tell us about overcoming our fears?
How does embracing suffering actually help us deal with fears?
Congratulations to our 24 children who received First Holy Communion this weekend! We pray that these children will continue to be strong and courageous witnesses of the Risen Jesus. Many thanks to their parents for the many sacrifices they make to prioritize Church and Religious Education, and to our catechists for their many hours of committed hard work and testimony of faith. I especially thank the main 2nd Grade and Holy Communion catechists, Mrs. DiGregorio and Mr. Gabel, for your tremendous dedication to passing on the Catholic Faith to the next generation. Kids – be bold and courageous in your love for Jesus!