They were frightened, but he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”John 6:19-20
Before Pentecost, there were many times the Apostles and disciples were overwhelmed by fear, and usually when it involved their physical safety. After Pentecost, their was a distinct boldness and authority in their tone. The renewing of the mind through the Holy Spirit gives one strength in all situations for you know that all things work for the good of those who know God and are called according to His purpose. (ROM 8:28)
That’s certainly not to say you might not taste that fear or that no circumstances will result in your death. Certainly we all will die at least once and then face judgement. (Hebrews 9:27) Most of the Apostle’s suffered martyrdom during death. The same is true with the great saints who died some very cruel deaths. No the renewal of the mind only guarantees you that God will find a way during the death to give you the strength to face it like a Christian. St. Lawrence was martyred by roasting him on a pit. God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked. “Turn me over,” he said to the judge. “I’m done on this side!”
Other trials the Israelites faced in the Old Testament included the slavery in Egypt. Even after Pharaoh grants them their exile and they are fleeing, several hundred thousand of them, they reach the banks of the Red Sea. Can you put yourself in the sandals of those people. They see the chariots in the distance, the Red Sea in front of them. “Sure death awaits them” they must have thought.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were in great fear. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord; and they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”Exodus 14:10-12
But Moses already knew God would not abandon them and, more importantly, God had a plan.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-ha-hi′roth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Ba′al-zephon; you shall encamp over against it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are entangled in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.”Exodus 14:1-4
So Moses knew and that extra insight allowed him to be a bold leader and say “Fear not…” Even in the face of extreme uncertainty, it takes a great leader to be calm and know that God can take care of this. I imagine there were many in those hundreds of thousands who though to themselves, “yea right, we’re all going to die!” I’m sure they were mocking Moses because their fear was overwhelming. Even when you have great leaders who are bold and assuring, you have many who lack that same reassurance.
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.”Exodus 14:13
Another instance of this boldness and assurance came during the 6th century when a severe plague ravaged the city of Rome.1
Pope St. Gregory the Great was another great leader that immediately set out to call upon the mercy of God. But he didn’t stop with just words, the words were followed by action.
Pope Gregory led a procession out from St. Peter’s Basilica past the Mausoleum of Hadrian in a prayerful petition to end the plague. He invited everyone to pray to God that the plague would be lifted. The Golden Legend narrates how the procession was led by an ancient image of the Virgin Mary, reportedly cleansing the air of disease.http://www.cssr.news/2020/05/seeking-mother-marys-intercession-during-a-pandemic/
As spirit daily reports, “As the procession crossed an old stone-arched bridge over the Tiber and arrived at the mouth of Via Conciliazone near St. Peter’s, the devout caught glimpse, they insisted, of a mirage above an old rotund funerary: the incredible sight of an angel identified as Michael putting away his sword and marking the end of God’s justice, just as many centuries later the third secret of Fatima would include the image of an angel with a flaming torch, ready to touch the earth with it but the flames drowned out with a light coming from the Virgin.” 2
“The Roman Plague of 590 was an epidemic of plague that affected the city of Rome in the year 590. Probably bubonic plague, it was part of the first plague pandemic that followed the great plague of Justinian, which began in the 540s and may have killed more than 100 million Europeans before spreading to other parts of the world and which lasted until the end of Late Antiquity.” 2
Today we have nearly a million dead worldwide as a result of this Flu. And in China where it originated, there are massive deaths that are left unreported as they were rushed to crematoriums that worked around the clock to keep the disease contained.
The plague in the 6th century was 100 times more deadly, and yet the Pope led a procession through the city. And some accounts say several people actually died while marching in the procession. That is bold.
There are a few in the clergy with level heads and recognize what is needed. First, let’s watch Fr. Mark Goring. He is an inspirational priest with very short podcasts, usually less than 6 minutes. Here is his podcast on the stats of the Chinese Flu. His overall message is “Be not afraid.”
In his podcast he discusses Dr. John Campbell. Dr. Campbell has a very active You Tube channel. He has been very focal about focusing on the scientific evidence. That seems to be sorely missed by many of the U.S. experts.
He also did an efficacy for Hydroxychloroquine.
But to get back to “Be Not Afraid” as a theme, Fr. Altman is another that does not see the Flu as threatening as the religious persecution it has led to in the US. Here is a podcast earlier this year where he discusses the freedom for all Americans present in the Bill of Rights. With the government lock-down of churches while allowing other services, there is no contesting our rights are being infringed upon.
As we saw with Fr. Goring, the lethality of the disease is way down, almost non-existent at this point compared to where we were in March and April. With this last video, there may be hidden agendas by some to limit our religious liberty. If that is the case, we need not be afraid of the disease, but we should ensure we petition our government to guarantee our freedoms.
1 – Seeking Mother Mary’s intercession during a Pandemic , http://www.cssr.news/2020/05/seeking-mother-marys-intercession-during-a-pandemic/
2 – When An Image Of Mary Halted A Plague , https://spiritdailyblog.com/news/when-an-image-of-mary-halted-a-plague