One night while Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.” He settled there for a year and a half and taught the word of God among them.
But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him to the tribunal, saying, “This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.” When Paul was about to reply, Gallio spoke to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud, I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles and your own law, see to it yourselves. I do not wish to be a judge of such matters.”
And he drove them away from the tribunal.They all seized Sosthenes, the synagogue official, and beat him in full view of the tribunal. But none of this was of concern to Gallio. Paul remained for quite some time, and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had shaved his head because he had taken a vow.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
“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.
We pray for the grace to “be not afraid” as we live and preach the Gospel in our daily lives. Christ is always with us. Christ goes before us. And Jesus will never leave us alone! As Pope Francis reminds us: “After suffering comes the Lord, comes joy, and after the darkness comes the sun.”
―George Penman Sullivan, Jr.
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