Homily by Fr. Paul Plante

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B

September 7, 1997

Scriptural Reference: Isaiah 35:4-7

     “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!”

     And so today, I say to any of you whose hearts are frightened: “Be strong, fear not!”

     If I were convinced that there may be only one of you whose heart is frightened, I would be better to take you aside and speak to you personally instead of imposing on such a large number of people. But perhaps my conviction is rather that there are few if any of you here whose hearts are not frightened. Granted it is not the same kind of fear – or the same reasons for fear – or the same level of fear – but fear nonetheless!

     Fear comes from an awareness of danger – one who has no idea that something or someone can be harmful could easily be in the most precarious of situations. We actually initiate children to fear by showing them a variety of dangers – do not go in the street – do not climb up there – get away from the stove – fire burns – never go swimming alone.

     With time and experience, some fears are deeper and more painful. It is more than just outside dangers that could harm us physically – like the fear of not being accepted – liked, even loved – as if there is something missing in who we are to make us lovable – the fear linked to what we may have done in the past – the fear of being shamed – of losing one’s reputation – the fear of evil creeping in where there should be goodness, safety, and harmony – the fear that someone we love very much is on the edge of doing something that will be very damaging to a marriage – a family – a child. The fear that those we love will get hurt – won’t be able to take the stress – won’t be able to face difficult times – are getting out of control in some area of life or other. It may be the fear of not being able to see the needs of those we love – a sickly spouse – parent – child – making sure the children have what they need to face the demands of the future. It may be the fear of losing something as precious and necessary as the faith you have lived by and have not been able to transfer to the next generation. It may even be the fear of God: Can God really forgive me? Am I still not trying hard enough to fulfill God’s will? When I die, what will happen to me?

     And I still dare say to those whose hearts are frightened: “Be strong, fear not!”

     I hope that fear is something you look at very closely in your life. I do not know what I would do without putting all my own reasons to fear into God’s loving care – here are my fears – I cannot handle this alone – You, Lord are with me – you will take care of me no matter what.

     Because I trust in you, I can be strong and not be afraid!

     “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!”

     And so today, I say to any of you whose hearts are frightened: “Be strong, fear not!”

     If I were convinced that there may be only one of you whose heart is frightened, I would be better to take you aside and speak to you personally instead of imposing on such a large number of people. But perhaps my conviction is rather that there are few if any of you here whose hearts are not frightened. Granted it is not the same kind of fear – or the same reasons for fear – or the same level of fear – but fear nonetheless!

     Fear comes from an awareness of danger – one who has no idea that something or someone can be harmful could easily be in the most precarious of situations. We actually initiate children to fear by showing them a variety of dangers – do not go in the street – do not climb up there – get away from the stove – fire burns – never go swimming alone.

     With time and experience, some fears are deeper and more painful. It is more than just outside dangers that could harm us physically – like the fear of not being accepted – liked, even loved – as if there is something missing in who we are to make us lovable – the fear linked to what we may have done in the past – the fear of being shamed – of losing one’s reputation – the fear of evil creeping in where there should be goodness, safety, and harmony – the fear that someone we love very much is on the edge of doing something that will be very damaging to a marriage – a family – a child. The fear that those we love will get hurt – won’t be able to take the stress – won’t be able to face difficult times – are getting out of control in some area of life or other. It may be the fear of not being able to see the needs of those we love – a sickly spouse – parent – child – making sure the children have what they need to face the demands of the future. It may be the fear of losing something as precious and necessary as the faith you have lived by and have not been able to transfer to the next generation. It may even be the fear of God: Can God really forgive me? Am I still not trying hard enough to fulfill God’s will? When I die, what will happen to me?

     And I still dare say to those whose hearts are frightened: “Be strong, fear not!”

     I hope that fear is something you look at very closely in your life. I do not know what I would do without putting all my own reasons to fear into God’s loving care – here are my fears – I cannot handle this alone – You, Lord are with me – you will take care of me no matter what.

     Because I trust in you, I can be strong and not be afraid!

Contact: Fr. Daniel Greenleaf                     frpaulplante@gmail.com                        (207) 773-6471

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