Casting out Fear

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The Easter season is a time for Christians’ greatest joy. The Lord is risen! Alleluia! Yet, so often in the Scriptures of this season, we see fear. In Mark’s Gospel, women run from the empty tomb in terror. In today’s readings from Luke and Acts, a miraculous healing and even the appearance of the Risen One himself are not enough to dispel the doubt, quell the fears. 

In some sense, it is no surprise. After all, even having celebrated the resurrection again this year, we see the opposite of its life-giving promise all around us. Death still seems to reign—in our world and its structures, our relationships, and even in our hearts. Though we can sing Alleluia in worship, we return to a life where fear and insecurity confront us daily. History painfully shows us how Christians have used Peter’s proclamation in Acts to fuel anti-Jewish hatred or Psalm 8 to exploit our environment. In a world more interconnected than any time in history, we find ways to isolate, to divide, and to exclude. How can we today put aside fear and respond to Peter’s invitation, to the message of the prophets: “Repent, therefore, and be converted”? 

The disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. In the upper room, it was Jesus’ eating fish with them that gave them assurance. Loaves and fishes. The victory over fear comes from communion with God and each other. If we welcome others to our table today, in whatever small way we can, “the faith of our hearts and the homage of our deeds” make present the Risen One and begin to cast out all fear. 

© Liturgical Press.

Michael Lee

Michael E. Lee is professor of theology and director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University. He is also the author of Revolutionary Saint: The Theological Legacy of Oscar Romero.

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