These were the words of Pope Francis today during his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta.
According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father reflected on the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in which Christ calls on St. Paul to preach in Corinth without fear.
“Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city," Jesus says to Paul in a vision.
The Pope said that Christ invites Paul to not be afraid because fear is an attitude that can harm, weaken, and diminish. “A fearful Christian is a person who has not understood the message of Jesus," he said.
“This is why Jesus says to Paul: ‘Do not be afraid. Continue to speak.’ Fear is not a Christian attitude. It is an attitude, we could say, of a caged animal, without freedom, who does not have the freedom to look ahead, to create something, to do good… no, always: ‘No, but this is dangerous, there is something else, something else…’ And this is a vice. It is the fear of doing evil.”
The 78 year old Pontiff called on the faithful to ask for the grace of courage, so as not to become fearful.
“There are fearful communities that always go on the safe side: ‘No, no, we aren’t doing this… No, no, this can’t be done, this can’t be done.’ It seems they have written on the gateway: ‘Forbidden.’ Everything is forbidden because of fear. And you enter into this community and the air is stale, because it is a sick community. Fear makes a community sick. The lack of courage makes a community sick.”
The Pope went onto say that fear must not be confused with fear of the Lord, a grace that allows the faithful to "awe in adoration."
Turning to today's Gospel, Pope Francis said that the second word of the liturgy counter's fear: joy.
“Christian joy is not simply enjoyment, is not a fleeting cheerfulness," he explained. "Christian joy is a gift, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. And having a heart that is always joyful because the Lord has triumphed, the Lord reigns, the Lord is at the right hand of the Father, the Lord has looked upon me and called me and has given me His grace, and has made me a Son of the Father… That is Christian joy. A Christian lives in joy.”
The Jesuit Pope said that a lack of joy in Christian communities also cause it to become sick. Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray to the Lord to "raise our spirit" and to "take away our every fear."