At the Incarnation of the Son of God, there is a natural emotion that is addressed in the Gospels: Fear, the aversion to a perceived danger.
The Archangel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and tells him, ‘Do not be afraid, for your prayer is heard, . . .’
After greeting Our Lady, Gabriel says to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’
St. Joseph is told by the angel, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; . . .’
Finally, the angel greets the shepherds, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy . . . .’
As a natural emotion, fear is neutral, neither good nor evil. Virtue or vice is based upon a person’s response to fear. Mary is said to have been ‘troubled’ at the Archangel’s words and visit. Granted, an Archangel is visiting her; honoring her with the greeting, ‘Hail, full of grace’; inviting her to be the Mother of God – though she had taken a vow of virginity. If there were any natural emotion of fear in Our Lady, she quickly gives it to God, the Father in total trust of His Plan: ‘Let it be done unto me according to Thy Will.’
How often does fear lead me to mistrust Our Lord? To forget that He is my merciful, loving, almighty Father? How often does fear paralyze me from prayer, works of mercy and my daily duties according to my state in life? The devil often uses fear to paralyze us, to discourage us and to disrupt our peace of soul.
We have seen a good bit of attention given to fear this year, haven’t we?! Paralysis from receiving the sacraments; from interacting with our fellow man? How many have used fear to control others; fear of being fined or closed? How many addictions from discouragement? How much despair?
Fear of losing God’s life and going to hell, can be a motivator to avoid evil. And, yet, it seems pretty clear fear often focuses us on this life only. When we forget God is my Loving Father, fear of sickness, of suffering, of death can be overwhelming. Welcome to our world of 2020!
Rather than acquiescing to messages of fear from many in our secular world, may we turn to Our Lady and ask her this Advent for a deeper trust in her Son. For, it is His Birth that brings the message of Truth: ‘Be not afraid.’