One of the best films that I have ever seen is 2010’s “The King’s Speech.” It details the life of Albert, the future King George VI of the United Kingdom. When we first encounter him, he is a man very afraid. In fact, he’s happy to remain in the background, knowing that his brother will succeed his father. Albert’s good at what he does — being a military officer, father and husband. However, he lives in fear of public speaking as he has a terrible stutter. After all conventional methods have failed, his loving wife, the future queen mother, brings her husband’s case to an Australian actor-turned-speech therapist.

This actor diagnoses what truly is the issue — Albert is afraid of failure, of embarrassing his father, the king, and letting down his family and his nation. He’s so afraid that he’s crippled in his ability to communicate. The future king is terrified about assuming the role of the monarch when his brother abdicates. Through the love of his good wife and the friendship and guidance of his therapist, Albert — now King George — musters up the confidence to become the sign of unity for the British people during World War II.

This film reminds me of the Gospel we proclaim this Sunday from Saint Mark. Our Lord Jesus, upon entering the district of the Decapolis, encounters a deaf man with a speech impediment. As we read, Our Lord touches this man, who is suffering and heals him, stating “Ephpatha!”–“Be opened!”

Imagine being that man, held back for so many years, never being able to communicate as he wished, suffering from not being understood, living in fear, suffering from self-doubt every single time he opened his mouth to speak. Like King George in the film, the deaf man’s self-doubt, his lack of faith in himself, is caused by fear. He is afraid that he can’t be understood, that no one wants to be around him. Can this Jesus heal him? Is this Jesus whom he claims to be, the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah?

At the root of all lack of faith and doubt is fear. It is a dangerous thing to posit belief in a God whom we cannot see. It is a scary thing to live our lives in accordance with the teachings of a man who lived over 2,000 years ago. What if we’re wrong? What if we spend our entire lives trying to live good lives of service and love and ultimately find out that there is nothing else, that we could have done whatever we wanted, even the most immoral of activities? This fear can exist not only in questions of the existence of God, the revelation of Christ and the necessity of the Church in general. But can also be extended to our own lives. If God exists, why should He love me with all my faults, with all my sins, with all my problems and anxieties?

This fear and doubt can extend to our life choices. We can doubt ourselves in our relationships with others — being afraid to let others into our lives, being afraid to love, to be loved and to be vulnerable. Every time we open our mouths, we are being judged. What if the person with whom I share my thoughts betrays me, mocks me or misunderstands me? Am I worthy of the friendship that is offered to me by another? Am I lovable?

Overcoming the fear that exists in us is essential for our lives of faith. The only way to do so is to keep on going, gazing intently on Jesus — the way, the truth and the life for us. “Be opened!” commands our good and loving Lord Jesus. If we trust in him who cannot deceive or be deceived, if we are open to his healing and trust in the plan that he has for our lives, we will know his healing and his peace.

Father John P. Cush, STD, is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn. He serves as the academic dean of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy. Father Cush is the author of The How-to-Book of Catholic Theology (OSV, 2020).