Fight Fear with Faith
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
What was the motivating factor for the man in Jesus’ parable today? As we hear about the farmer who has a fortunate streak, his actions tell us about his character; and this is why Jesus is telling this story in order to teach us. We are to see something of ourselves in this man, learn from the experience, and make changes in our lives if we need to do so.
So, what is driving his actions? With the surplus that he realizes, he decides to store it all – to build larger barns and silos to hold all that abundance. Is the man driven by greed? No one else was going to get his stuff! Was he driven by prudence? It makes sense to protect his investment. Was he driven by love? He certainly had a family for whom to provide. Was he driven by economics? He could sell his surplus and make a lot of money.
I don’t think so.
I think that Jesus’ point in telling this story was to get us to realize that the man was acting in a way that showed a lack of faith. And what is the opposite of faith? Doubt? No. Atheism? No. Science and logic? No.
The opposite of faith is fear. And this man was acting out of fear. In fact, it is precisely in this fear that we can most fully identify with the man. His desire to store up the abundance that his land had produced was probably the result of worry about whether he would have anything in the future. He wanted a comfortable nest egg to rely upon as time went by. This fear for future security drives a lot of us. We all have experienced fear, and we have all acted (or not acted) because of fear. Like it or not, fear is a powerful motivator, and the devil knows this. In the last 24 hours, we have again been gripped by the fear that comes from senseless violence and death because of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, and fear is very real. The devil knows that this fear can paralyze us and it can divide us. He knows fear. Fortunately, so does Jesus; and Jesus offers us the remedy for fear.
The preacher Qoheleth in the First Reading points this truth out to us: For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest. Worry about the future leads us to all sorts of problems, and none of that worry has the power to solve any of those problems. Jesus is telling us through this story that our trust must first and foremost be placed in God’s goodness to us – goodness that He has shown us time and time again. Maybe we have been abundantly blessed with possessions; but these things are not who we are. Rather, we are eternal beings – children of God whose value comes simply by being known and loved by the Lord of life. When we recognize this, there is true joy.
Faith means knowing that God has control; it also means that we are willing to give that control to Him, like a child trusts his mother. Believe in the promise of a holy future that God has promised us. This was true for the people of Israel, it has been true for the Church, and it is still true for us – even here in our community.
The changes that have been a part of our parish’s life over these last several years have left many of us with a sense of uncertainty and even fear. Some of our brother and sister parishioners have left because of that uncertainty. However, here we remain, called to serve the community as Christ’s Church. We are united by one faith and one history of service to our community. We are called to bring about the presence of the kingdom of God here in our midst. Fear will never accomplish this. Holding on to past hurts will not accomplish this. Only faith will accomplish the great things of which we know we are capable. Only faith.
St. Paul gives us our cue: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. … Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, Anglo or Hispanic, Crucifixion, Holy Trinity, or Good Shepherd; but Christ is all and in all.
United around Jesus in the Eucharist, we bring the best of who we are to one another. In so doing, we build up the Body of Christ, and we become the presence of Christ the King to our community. Let’s put aside fear for the future and embrace the faith that gives us true power to change the world and to move forward with confidence in the Lord.