Swimming Against the Current of Fear

First Reading: Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10

The words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah,
of a priestly family in Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin.

The word of the LORD came to me thus:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
“Ah, Lord GOD!” I said,
AI know not how to speak; I am too young.”

But the LORD answered me,
Say not, “I am too young.”
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them,
because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying,

See, I place my words in your mouth!
This day I set you
over nations and over kingdoms,
To root up and to tear down,
to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4A, 5-6AB, 15 AND 17

R. (see 15ab) I will sing of your salvation.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. I will sing of your salvation.

Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”



Do you ever feel inadequate? Like you aren’t enough? Like you don’t have all the tools at hand to do the work you need to or to make the decisions that you’re facing? The Prophet in today’s First Reading struggled with some of those same feelings of inadequacy.

Last spring, I was holding onto my fear, like the Prophet. And while I remained shuttered with fear, I couldn’t move forward. I felt like I was drowning in questions without answers. I couldn’t face the hard decisions. My prayers were asking for answers and a clear and easy way ahead, but nothing seemed to get easier.

Finally, I let my prayer change. I started to pray that God just take me where I needed to be, that I would do my best to listen and follow. Soon, a stronger tide started pushing back against that undercurrent of insufficiency and uncertainty. That overwhelming flood was the knowledge that God wants the best for me. That God is protecting me and bolstering me. That no matter where my path wanders, He is leading me.

As for me, I was accepted to graduate school, quit my job, and moved cross country in less than a month. The fear didn’t go away. I sacrificed a career, an apartment, a community, for an uncertain path and a major life change. I just knew that God was stronger than any fears I could conjure up for myself.

Your fears are probably different than mine. You might be welcoming a new child to your family, struggling with health issues, starting a new job or leaving an old one, letting a relationship go, discerning a vocation—the list is long, but the Lord offers us the same comfort.

As he assured Jeremiah, He assures each of us that He orders our days and is with us always:

“To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them,
because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.”

What fear are you holding in your heart? Can you hand it over to God in prayer today?

photo credit

Brigid Hogan loves the view of the Washington Monument from her apartment, her standing desk, the Green Bay Packers, and a good mystery. She tolerates taking the Metro to the office, where she works as a communications consultant. You can find out more about her here.

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