When on 22 October 1978 I said the words ‘Be not afraid’ in St Peter’s Square, I could not fully know how far they would take me and the entire Church. Their meaning came more from the Holy Spirit, the Consoler promised by the Lord Jesus to His disciples, than from the man who spoke them. Nevertheless, with the passing of the years, I have recalled these words on many occasions.
The exhortation ‘Be not afraid’ should be interpreted as having a broad meaning. In a certain sense it was an exhortation addressed to all people, an exhortation to conquer fear in the present world situation, as much in the East as in the West, as much in the North as in the South.
Why should we have no fear? Because man has been redeemed by God…..in the Redemption we find the most profound basis for the words ‘Be not afraid’: ‘for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.’ This Son is always present in the history of humanity as Redeemer….the power of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection is greater than any evil that man could or should fear….Christ alone can give the ultimate assurance when He says:’Be not afraid!’