Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4; Psalm 95:1-2,6-9; 2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14; Luke 17:5-10)
Living in the Power of God and Not the Power of Fear
Stir into flame the gift of God. (2 Timothy 1:6)
Did you know that fear is a gift from God? It helps us protect ourselves and our loved ones when danger arises. The problem is that our inner gift of fear can become too powerful and cause us to exaggerate the external threats that have given rise to fear in the first place. How many times has a fearful situation caused your mind to race uncontrollably? When we exaggerate the actual cause of fear in our minds, we risk losing our peace, compromising our sense of judgment, and, in some extreme cases, even becoming sick.
In today’s first reading, we see St. Paul urging Timothy to overcome his fears as he leads the Church at Ephesus. Can this be true? Is this the same Timothy whom Paul sent to build the church at Ephesus in the first place (1 Timothy 1:3)? Is this the Timothy whom Paul sent to Thessalonica to strengthen the Church during a time of persecution? (1 Thessalonians 1:3)? Didn’t Paul say that no one was comparable to Timothy (Philippians 2:20)? Whatever challenge Timothy was facing, it must have been significant.
Most of us become fearful when a significant hardship comes our way. That is a blessing. But we cannot allow these fears to control us. Instead, let’s remind ourselves that God is with us, and he is for us. Let’s believe that nothing stands against us (Romans 8:31). And let’s never forget that we can do all things in Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).
When we place our faith in Scripture passages like these, grace and power are stirred up in us. So pray the prayer below each day to overcome your timidity. Then, when you face some fearful situation, try to keep it in the right perspective. Don’t let fear be your master!
“Lord, help me overcome my timidity. In your name, I command any spirit of fear to go to the foot of the cross where you died, so that I will not be controlled by it. Jesus, fill me with your spirit of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, we hear these words: “the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” How easy it is to have faith in God when things are going good. Why is faith in God even more critical during difficult times? How is your faith during such times? Share a time when your faith allowed you to overcome a difficult circumstance.
- The responsorial psalm offers two contrasting ways to respond to the work of the Lord in our lives. One is to sing joyfully to the Lord, acclaim him, offer him thanksgiving, and bow down in worship. The other is to harden our hearts and test and tempt the Lord. What steps can you take individually, or with others, to allow your own response to the Lord to be more like the former and less like the latter?
- In the second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds his brothers to “stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” What are some ways you can “stir into flame” the gifts of God in you and others?
- In the Gospel, the Apostles ask Jesus to “Increase our faith.” We know that faith is a gift of God, yet we have a part to play in responding to this gift. What are some steps you can take as Christians to allow the Lord to increase your faith?
- The meditation begins with these words: ““Did you know that fear is a gift from God? It helps us protect ourselves and our loved ones when danger arises. The problem is that our inner gift of fear can become too powerful and cause us to exaggerate the external threats that have given rise to fear in the first place.” The meditation ends with these word: “Don’t let fear be your master!” Fear, like all our emotions, is intended to be our servant not our master. What about you? What situations can cause fear to be your master, not your servant?
- The meditation also reminds us that when we reflect on the promises of Scripture: “grace and power are stirred up in us.” These include Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us.”; Philippians 4:13: “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.”; and 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of love and power and self-control.” How have the promises of Scriptures helped you to overcome fear?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to be released from any fear that still has a hold on your life. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.