“Do not be afraid.” These familiar words resound dozens of times in the Bible: to Abraham. Moses, Jeremiah, Virgin Mary, Joseph, those arriving at the tomb Easter morn, and, with Paul in today’s reading. Paul had undertaken an often dangerous mission, to spread the Good News of the Risen Christ. Paul became fearful for his own safety; so God comforted him, “Do not be afraid.”

We will all likely face difficult times––debilitating sickness, overwhelming familial or personal problems, financial distress, the loss of a loved one. At the Garden of Gethsemane we recall Jesus also prayed that “this cup might pass.” At these moments, sorrow seems to envelope our lives, and being brave seems almost impossible.

Yet Jesus reminds us: “Do not be afraid.” In trying moments, how do I find the grace to remember Christ is with me in sorrow and in joy, embrace the hope my sorrow will turn to joy, and pray for courage to go forth?

―George Penman Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found Chicago’s Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and three grandchildren.