Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of Canada - Franciscains du Canada
Ordo Fratrum Minorum
“Do not be afraid”
They left everything and followed Jesus.
– Luke 5.1-11
As a ‘young’ religious in Canada the phrase “do not be afraid” comes with it challenges, however it is always laced with hope. There are at times as a religious, I must be honest, that as we look to future we can be caught up in fear and forget the reassuring words of Jesus ‘Do not be afraid.” We ponder: Who will make up the church? Where will the church be in 5 or 10 years? Will the church face her demons and learn from her sins? How will the church and religious define themselves in this every changing world? What path will we trod as our religious communities diminish? These questions trap us and we can build upon fear instead of upon hope. We must not dwell here, we must face these questions with honesty, with conviction and with hope for this is our “duty” as religious and it is also the invitation we offer to all disciples of Christ.
The challenge of “do not be afraid” is trust. Trusting that God is at work in my life and the life of my religious community, all religious communities and the church. Trusting that like St. Peter I too can “put out into the deep” with all that I am. Trusting that by putting out into the deep I will cast my nets into new waters and be amazed by the catch. Trusting that the word of God is speaking to me, helping me to purify my intentions and confidently leaving everything to follow Jesus.
The most compelling thing about “Do not be afraid” is that it calls me beyond myself. It calls me to not get caught up in my worries, my fears, my shortcomings or the struggles we face as religious. Instead it calls me to look to Jesus and to look to the gifts of my brothers, others religious, the church and all the people of God. “Do not be afraid” awakens in me a confidence that looks the fears and questions of despair in the eyes and says again and again, “put out into the deep,” (Luke 5. 4) “proclaim the good news,” (1 Corinthians 15.1) remember that “the Lord will fulfill his purpose for me (us)” (Psalm 138) and that “your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever” (Psalm 138).
Yes, the Lord’s steadfast love endures forever and it is because of this love that I continue to live out my vows, continue to leave everything to follow Jesus and I can say “Here am I; send me!” (Isaiah 3.8)
Several years ago, I prayed
“do something new in me”
I didn’t know what that would mean.
I’m not sure if I understand it any more today
but I continue to pray “do something new in me.”
This small prayer is not a plea, it is not a begging,
It is my way of saying, “Here am I; send me.”
I’m not sure what that will mean or where I will go.
I do know that it means you will equip me and ready me
to “put out into the deep.”
It means that my fears need not rise for you will be there with me
to help me with the catch and the work that is to be done.
It means that despite my sinfulness that I am still a vessel
and you work in me and strengthen me to be your messenger.
In each day by trying to give my all and empty myself I can
leave everything, offer everything and entrust everything to you.
You calm my fears, you deepen my trust, you are my may,
You are my everything, your grace, mercy and love are enough for me,
so once again I pray, “do something new in me.”