On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you.” ( John 20:19)

Two days after Jesus’ death, the disciples were in a locked room because they feared the Jews. This was understandable as they tried to make sense out of the crucifixion and sensed danger.

Fear is an emotional response common to all people; it occurs when we sense that someone or something is a danger or a threat. When this happens, we seek to avoid or escape the situation that gives rise to our fears.
There is a difference between fear and anxiety. Fear is a response to a present threat, a future event or a worsening situation. Anxiety is the natural emotional response to threats or events we believe to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. Fear is not bad, it warns us of danger. The fear we are to avoid is that which causes undue worry and has a negative effect on our lives. It is the fear that makes us unhappy and paralyses our lives.

Some of the situations that can cause us to fear unduly are: sickness, death, adversity, domestic problems, change of anykind and the like. Past experiences can also be the cause of some of our fears. Jesus’ impending death was a fearful time for him: “If it be possible remove this cup from me.”

Some of us might be like the disciples in today’s Gospel, living in fear because we perceive some present or future condition to be a danger or threat to our existence. As I said above fear can paralyse our lives, us to doubt our ability to conquer and rob us of life. Think about the times when you lived in a state of fear, how did it affect your lives?

What fears have we brought with us this morning to Mass? The fears that are debilitating and that weaken us. We might be like the disciples in today’s Gospel locked away in a room because we fear the present or the future. The folly of fear is that it makes us weak and allows what we are fearful of to happen.

What is the answer to fear? Courage. When we are faced with what might be called ‘life threatening’ situations we must ensure that fear gives way to courage. Be courageous and we shall overcome our fears.

Throughout history, people have accomplished their goals and have achieved because they faced their fears and refused to allow fear to be the defining moment. Winston Churchill is a good example for overcoming fear. When England faced the prospect of a German invasion, Churchill, conscious of the fear that consumed the English, summoned all his courage and said:  “…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…” You can bet your dollar, he was a fearful man.

We shall have our moments of fear. Some time ago, I came across a statement, which said: “God gives us security (the security of his everlasting love, the hope of eternal life, the peace of the Spirit), but he does not guarantee us safety.”  Easter message challenges us to overcome our fears and dwell secure in God’s peace. It reminds us that the situations that give rise to fear are temporary. This too shall pass. Easter says to all of us have no fear; the dry bones can live.

In our times of fear and distress, we can find comfort in the Scriptures. Paul wrote to Timothy: "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:6). When he found himself in a fearful situation, he said: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

When Jesus entered the room and saw the frightened, he said to them, "Peace be with you." That changed the situation from fear to hope. “Christ is our peace.” Whenever we are in a state of fear we must ask Christ to come into our lives and give us his peace. Paul writes: The peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your heart and mind in the knowledge of God and of His Son Jesus Christ.”

Two things we can do to help us overcome some of our fears. We can love the person we perceive to be the cause of our fear: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love” ( 1 John 4:18). Love destroys fear. There is no fear in love. Secondly, we can overcome our fears by praying for the situation that causes the fear. 

Christians should have no fear of uncertainty. Neither should they fear the world or what people can do to them. Jesus lives; because we share in his victory over death, we can face any situation with confidence. We can face tomorrow; we can face tomorrow without fear because he holds the future in his hand. We can face tomorrow without fear because in Christ there is no need to fear. We can face tomorrow without fear and enjoy life because Christ lives. Because he lives, all fear is gone. 

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