Do Not Be Afraid

May 26, 2017 – Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter


A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (18:9-18)

One night while Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision,
“Do not be afraid.
Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.
No one will attack and harm you,
for I have many people in this city.”
He settled there for a year and a half
and taught the word of God among them.

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia,
the Jews rose up together against Paul
and brought him to the tribunal, saying,
“This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.”
When Paul was about to reply, Gallio spoke to the Jews,
“If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud,
I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews;
but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles
and your own law, see to it yourselves.
I do not wish to be a judge of such matters.”
And he drove them away from the tribunal.
They all seized Sosthenes, the synagogue official,
and beat him in full view of the tribunal.
But none of this was of concern to Gallio.

Paul remained for quite some time,
and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria,
together with Priscilla and Aquila.
At Cenchreae he had shaved his head because he had taken a vow.
Reflect: Do not be afraid. Paul was a man of great faith. At the same time, he had experienced a lot of trials and challenges for the sake of the name of Jesus. It’s no wonder that the Lord appeared to him to encourage him as he was about to enter into another den of wolves. Paul persevered. He knew the importance of preaching in the name of Jesus and to giving witness to the love and mercy of God in his own life. Even though many believers around the world are being persecuted for their faith, most of us might experience a subtler challenge to our faith.  We may even be dealing with conflicts among other believers.  Many of us experience the grating experience of spiritual warfare. The message today is that Jesus is with us; he is in our midst. He says to us, as he said to Paul: “Do not be afraid.”  He wants to encourage us to stay faithful and to not waver in how we conduct ourselves in his name and on his behalf.  Maybe another way of looking at this is to imagine Jesus saying to us: “Be strong little flock; you are safe. Keep your eyes on the Shepherd.”  May our fears be wiped away as we trust in and walk with Jesus the Lord!

Questions: What do I find myself afraid about today? Can I turn over that fear to Jesus? How might Jesus be speaking to my heart to encourage me to stay strong and to keep my eyes on him? Am I giving witness to the love and mercy of Jesus in my own life?

Pray: Loving God, give me a heart that is strong in you. Help me to trust you even when I feel that I am facing a den of wolves. May the way I live and conduct my life give you honor, glory and praise.  I pray this in the powerful and perfect name of Jesus. Amen.

Christ our Lord was handed over for our transgressions and was raised again for our justification.  Alleluia, alleluia!

Saint Philip Neri died in 1595. He founded the Congregation of Priests of the Oratory, today numbering about 570 members, to promote holiness of priestly life and foster effective preaching. He was noted for his joyful and simple spirit, and his use of short, wise sayings. Philip spent long hours in the confessional, and he drew people of all walks of life to the Oratory for spiritual meetings including prayer, reflection, and music. He was known as the “Apostle of Rome” and the “Reformer of the Eternal City.”

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