The words of Jeremiah seem to ring in our ears with every daily newscast. Terror, in one form or another, is ever-present in our world and news outlets appear to relish the opportunity to report every incident, from the murder of innocent persons close to home to the random acts of violence around the world. Where can we go to escape it? How do we ignore it? We neither escape nor ignore it because the world was corrupted by sin and terror. Fear and insecurity are the tools of the devil to distract us from God. They can also lead us closer to God if we react by focusing on Him instead.
Jeremiah was no stranger to terror on every side. Many wanted to kill him because they did not like his words of admonition. In doing the Lord’s work, he was constantly calling the people to turn away from their evil ways and return to God’s ways. His words struck a nerve in his listeners, as they still do today. They knew his words were true but they didn’t want to hear them.
366, or so, times in the Bible we hear the comforting phrase—in one form or another—”do not be afraid.” We hear Jesus, today say these words to the apostles at the very beginning of His teaching. Then He tells them, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” His words should remind us that, just as we can cling to nothing in the world or take any wealth with us through the doors of death, neither can the world hold and entrap us—unless we allow it.
The words of St. Paul are always present to remind us of God’s indomitable Love: What will separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35)? Jesus echoes this theme from the opposite direction when He tells the apostles, “Whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” The choice is ours. This is why there is so much anger associated with the world’s lies, which touch the nerve of Truth in each of us, as St. Augustine explained so well: We were made for Thee and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.