The following is from our visiting priest, Fr. Martin Henry:
Reflection on Fear and Faith
Normally fear is taken to be a negative emotion, unfortunately just something we have to put up
with. And yet if we look a bit more closely at fear itself, we’ll see that it doesn’t simply appear to be a
reality we only instinctively reject. It also seems to be something we in a strange sense often deliberately
seek out. Why do some people like going to see horror movies, for example, if they don’t somehow want to
Fear in fact seems to be a powerful indicator of one of the deepest and most obvious truths of the
human condition, which is that we can never be fully in control of our lives and of our destinies. Fear
teaches us emotionally that our lives depend on forces beyond us. Perhaps then we are attracted by fear
because it seems to bring us into close, even immediate contact with this truth. The more keenly we feel
fear, the closer in a sense we seem to be to the ultimate powers in reality, the closer in fact we seem to be to
God. — But are we?
An ancient thinker once said that it was fear that first created gods among human beings. But if that
is all religion is, if religion is simply the result of fear or, worse still, the result of the exploitation of fear,
that would surely cast belief in God in a very poor light. Christianity, however, talks about the love that
casts out fear. It doesn’t deny the reality of fear, but it never says that it is fear that creates faith. Christian faith
should certainly help us to cope with fear and overcome it, but it is not the same thing as fear. Indeed one of the most
frequently repeated sayings in the whole Bible, from Genesis to the Book of Revelation, is a variation on the phrase: ‘Don’t be afraid!’
Faith in God is something else and something more than fear, because God himself is something else and
something more than a power that inspires fear. God is not just another word or another name for the power that
makes life possible, and which we have no control over. Above and beyond that, God is the reality of love who became incarnate, became human, for us in Jesus Christ, and who offers us all a share in the divine life here on earth and beyond this world for all eternity in heaven.
[In 2008 he published Tangents: Essays and Reflections (ISBN: 978-1847300638), and his latest publication (2013) is a series of homilies for Year A in German: Seid also wachsam. Predigten zwischen Matthäus und Overbeck (ISBN: 978-3810701749).]
View the photos from Father Dan Fox farewell liturgy on June 29, 2014.
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