Each year on the second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading is always a narrative of Jesus’ Transfiguration.  The episode confirms Jesus’ prophecy of his passion; it is also intended to strengthen the disciples to endure Jesus’ coming death with faith.  The Father’s voice is heard: “This is my beloved Son on whom my favor rests.  Listen to him.”  Then, Jesus speaks to Peter, James and John, telling them: “Get up!  Do not be afraid”!  Jesus is advising his disciples—and us: Have faith!  Do not submit to fear and doubt!  What beautiful, practical advice!

Exploring Faith.  One may ask: What is the opposite of “faith” in sacred scripture?  Is “fear” the antonym of “faith”?  Being afraid often means doubting that God is really with us.  I boldly assert that “fear” is opposed to “faith.”  Some examples may clarify my assertion.

In the Hebrew scriptures, God speaks to Abram (Gen 15:1) “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great.”  In the New Testament, when the angel Gabriel is sent by God and speaks to Mary, he says: “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favor….  You are to conceive and bear a son” (Lk 1:30-31).

Other persons receive the same call to move away from fear and to trust in God’s designs.  Two well-known examples immediately come to mind: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20).  The lowly shepherds hear the angel declare: “Do not be afraid.  Listen, I bring you news of great joy” (Lk 2:10).

Words of Encouragement.  Jesus himself during his public ministry speaks of the need to have faith.  When the disciples were struggling with rough seas, Jesus calls out to them: “Courage!  It is I!  Do not be afraid” (Mt 14:27).  During the miraculous catch of fish, Jesus says to Simon: “Do not be afraid; from now on it is people that you will catch” (Lk 5:10).  Jesus tells his disciples: “Fear not, you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows” (Lk 12:7); “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the Kingdom” (Lk 12:32).

In our daily life, we need to hear Jesus’ voice to realistically face our fears (like Abraham, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Peter, and the disciples).  We accept life’s challenges and realistic dangers; we are not naïve.  Yet, in spite of many daunting circumstances, we commit ourselves radically to God.  With the continual presence of the Spirit, we respond with authentic Gospel boldness.  As Peter, James and John discovered, God’s transforming grace is sufficient; we become, in fact, fearless witnesses, authentic evangelizers, and joyful, faith-filled proclaimers of the Gospel.  We appreciate Pope Francis’ advice in Evangelii Gaudium (80): “Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary enthusiasm!”

James H. Kroeger, M.M.


First Sunday of Lent

Stay by my side, Lord Jesus, as I walk

This world of uncertainty and sorrow.

Be my guiding light when darkness falls

And I no longer know which way to go.

When doubt descends may your Truth

Rise like the Morning Star to lead me

Along the right path to you.

Stay with me Lord Jesus, when doubt

Fills my heart and robs me of peace.

May your words echo in my mind

“Be not afraid, I am with you till

The end of time.”

O blessed assurance that calmed the

Heart of Mary, the mind of Joseph,

The faith of Peter and the zeal of Paul.

Lord Jesus, you who gave heaven up

To live among us here on Earth

Help me seek, find, and worship you

No less in the least

Of my brothers and sisters than

In the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

May your presence be your pledge

Of your abiding peace each day and night

Until I leave this world to live with

You and all the saints forever.


Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M


Photo: Maryknoll Sisters at Selma, March 7, 1965. (Photo courtesy of Maryknoll Mission Archives)


We are a Catholic Society of priests and brothers based in the United States. We are dedicated to missionary work overseas in over 20 countries. Additionally, we animate Catholics in the United States to follow their own baptismal call to share God’s compassion and love with the poor, the sick, and all those in need.


L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Fr. Lance P. Nadeau, Fr. James M. Lynch, Fr. Timothy O. Kilkelly, Fr. Juan Montes Zúñiga)

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is overseen by our General Council, led by Superior General Rev. Lance P. Nadeau, M.M.


L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Our Co-Founders Father Price and Father Walsh)





(Africa) Education and Formation of African Clergy

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region will provide tuition assistance to African clergy, male and female religious at institutes of higher education or specialized training. Read More

Stories of Our Global Mission

The calling of a lifetime

The life of a Maryknoll missioner is challenging, fulfilling, and deeply rewarding. Follow your baptismal call to mission by sharing God’s compassion with the poor, the sick, and people most in need.

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