“Do Not Be Afraid”: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

Whether you find your life full of goodness and faith today or a constant negotiation of difficulties, whether there is mostly sunny days, or sun finally pierces the darkness, or you can just see the light at the end of the tunnel, or if this is a deeply dark time for you, listen now to Jesus saying ” It is I. Do not be afraid”(John 16:20). Jesus is offering his presence and help. Fear is a common,usually appropriate, sometimes even helpful but most often awful feeling. But Jesus is there with us. “It is I”- “I AM” is there with us. Our loving God is there with us when we are sore afraid. For all of us, fear is a part of living that must sometimes enter our hearts. Fear is a feeling that sometimes freezes you, pierces your heart and soul, causes anxiety, even panic, and challenges our faith. Perhaps that is why Jesus so often says, “be not afraid” as he lovingly offers his strength and support. Perhaps we can recall and pray for the rainbow after the storm. But during the storm we hunker down and try to “get through it”. That is when, if we listen, we can hear Jesus saying “Be Not Afraid”!

Most especially Jesus is there in our most stormy times of life. There are so many kinds of stormy times in our lives. When the Synogogue leader, Jairus, faced the shocking news of his daughter’s death as Jesus was delayed by healing a desperate woman who had been suffering for years as they went toward Jairus’ home, Jesus says “Don’t be afraid, just believe”. Jairus must have done so as they entered the child’s room and Jesus took her hand and told her to get up! She immediately did to the astonishment of all there (Mark 5:21-43). Oh thank God for the Risen Jesus! While we face our worst fears or experience devastating losses, Jesus is still there taking our hands and helping us to get up.

When financial worries threaten your livelihood and well being, or your daily life is scary and difficult, reach out for that hand. When it seems your heart is broken in failing relationships, take his hand. Or as you care endlessly for a loved one who is deteriorating in every way, and you feel you have been used up and can give no more, hear him say “Do not be afraid” and “Come unto me all who are weary and burdened (heavy laden), and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11; 28). “Do not be afraid, but believe”-and reach out for that hand. And sometimes as you do you will find other hands there ready to offer you care, guidance and support.

We may sometimes feel God is asleep on the job as the disciples did when Jesus, exhausted, slept in the rear of the boat as a storm at sea threatened to capsize it. When he calms the storm saying “Quiet, Be Still” we are relieved and can begin to breathe again. (Mark 4: 35-41). Yet, in this Scripture reading the disciples remained afraid even after the storm stopped as they were in awe of what Jesus had done! In still another storm Jesus hurries toward the disciples saying “Take courage, It is I. Do not be afraid”, and when he climbs into the boat with them the wind dies down. The disciples are still afraid, of who Jesus is and how he can calm storms.

Sometimes our faith wavers too. We do not believe our problems, our storms, can be calmed by Jesus. We just keep on carrying them as if he has no power or presence in such storms. We fail to invite him into the boat with us. But if we are aware of the nuances in the storm, it is often clear that Jesus did get into the boat with us anyway and calm is happening in ways we did not expect. A loved one’s support makes it possible to keep going on. A new friend or resource appears with another way to deal with it, or it just seems to improve. New information is helpful. Perhaps we gain in understanding and it seems more bearable. Jesus is in the boat.

IN John’s Gospel (John 6:16-21) When Jesus said to the disciples who were in rough waters in the darkness, “It is I; don’t be afraid” they were then willing to take Jesus into the boat and immediately the boat reached the safe shore. Dear friends, He is there, invite him into the boat, and do not be afraid. There will probably not be immediate or easy solutions but it will be all the difference to have Him in the boat.


Presently I am fearful because I have taken some tests that I take periodically since my bout with cancer ten years ago. That was a hard time for me as I went through major surgery. The good part was that because of that successful surgery I did not have to take chemo or radiation. I was so thankful to go on with life. A different cancer got me again five years ago and that too was handled by surgery. I am so thankful for good oncologists and good surgeons but I don’t want to face cancer again. It is five years later. And I am fearful that there could be another cancer as tests are delayed for further consultations. And these days it is impossible to speak to your Doctor until there is definite news. The time of uncertainty is a stressful time. It has been six days since the tests and I have taken my own spiritual advice and shared my fears in prayer, and with those closest to me. By the fourth day I had invited Jesus into the boat and am holding His hand. I am acutely aware of his calming Presence. My fears are not all gone but they have subsided and now I deeply feel, “whatever the news is good or bad, God and I will handle it together.” Oh yes, I still hope for good news, but now I am ready to accept it come what may.

Life is full of mountains and valleys. The harsh winds blow and we hold on. God is there beside us. Storms come and go and we carry on our daily lives. I am so thankful for my life. I am thankful for the sun on my back as I walk outside by my little lake. I am thankful for the good air I breathe AND the beauty all around me. The beauty of people and animals and all of creation. I am especially thankful for those who love me and walk with me no matter what comes. I am thankful for the difficulties I have already come through and the assurance of Presence as I deal with all aspects of my life that are uncertain and wearying. I am thankful for the health and strength I have by God’s grace and for the resources to handle whatever comes.

I am thankful that Jesus is in the boat.

Amen, and may you too reach out your hand, put it in His and ask him into your boat.

Love and blessings,

Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP

The Good Shepherd Community in Fort Myers, Florida



One response to ““Do Not Be Afraid”: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest”

  1. Patricia Byrne says :

    I shall be praying for you, Pastor Judy. Waiting is never easy. Our 50 year old daughter has been very sick with Long Covid for months and just

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