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Do not be afraid!

April 9, 2020


“The Resurrection,” Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Rogers, Minnesota.

“Do not be afraid” is one of the central messages of Easter. When the angel of the Lord spoke to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the angel’s first words were, “Do not be afraid!” (Mt 28:5). When Jesus appeared to the women, after he greeted them, he said, “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:10). The Resurrection of Jesus is reason to do away with fear.

Fear can be described in many ways: worry and anxiety, alarm and panic, apprehension and uneasiness, dread and fright, fretting and agonizing, and being troubled and nervous. It is terrible to be afraid. It saps a person’s energy and can paralyze a person. It is natural to want to be free of fear, to have purpose and meaning, joy, peace, health, well-being, safety and security.

“The Resurrection,” Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Royalton, Minnesota.

The women were afraid. They were afraid of separation and loneliness because their friend Jesus was gone. They were afraid that they would not be able to move the stone because it was too heavy, and afraid they would not be able to anoint his body. They were afraid because the earth was shaking, an angel appeared unexpectedly, and the body of Jesus was missing.

The disciples were also afraid. They were huddled together in the Upper Room behind barred doors for fear of the Jews. They were afraid to go outdoors. They were afraid of the corrupt Jewish leaders, being arrested, put on trial, treated unfairly, condemned and tortured. They were afraid to suffer and die. They were afraid of the unrest in Jerusalem and the brutality of the Roman soldiers. They were afraid for their families. They were afraid because of their sinful past and the punishment they deserved. They were afraid of going on without Jesus, an uncertain future, and what to do next.

The coronavirus pandemic fills us with fear. We are afraid of germs. We are afraid of contracting the virus, and if we do, of being sick, whether there will be adequate health care, how much we will suffer, and how long the recovery will last. We are afraid of a premature, untimely death, and if we die, whether we will go to heaven. We are afraid that God has abandoned us or is punishing us. We are afraid for doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other health care providers. We are afraid of isolation and being neglected or forgotten. We are afraid about our employment situation, the loss of income, the state of the economy, and our future economic security. We are afraid for our families, friends, and neighbors, and for our country. We are afraid if things will ever return to normal.

The Resurrection helps us face our fears. The risen Jesus brings peace to the troubled, hope to the worried, reassurance to the confused, and forgiveness to sinners. The risen Jesus who passed through locked doors to appear to his disciples appears to those who shelter in place. The risen Jesus who suffered so much has compassion on us in our suffering, promises to be with us in our trials, and help us carry our burdens. The risen Jesus who healed so many grants his healing grace to many who are sick. But Jesus does not promise recovery to all. Some will die because of the coronavirus. All will die someday. The risen Jesus does not promise life forever on earth, but rather life forever in heaven. The message of Easter is that for all who die, either now or in the future, that the Cross is our salvation, and because of all that Jesus suffered on our behalf, we will share in the glory of his Resurrection. Therefore, do not be afraid!

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