DO NOT FEAR
(A biblical reflection on THE 12th ORDINARY SUNDAY (YEAR A) – 21 June 2020)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:26-33
First Reading: Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalms: Psalm 69:8-10,14,7,33-35; Second Reading: Romans 5:12-15
The Scripture Text
“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the house-tops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges Me before men, I also acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:26-33)
What Jesus said to His Apostles applies to all Christians in the practice of their faith. By the very fact of living our faith openly and fully we are apostles by example. If we are always truthful and faithful to our promises, if we are honest in all our dealings, if as employers we pay a just wage and treat those working for us not as “hands” but as whole women and men, if as employees we give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, if we live chaste lives whether in single life or in marriage, we are true Christians. Above all, if we have true love of God and show our appreciation of all that He has done for us, and if we prove that love, by helping His other children, our neighbors, we are a light shining in the darkness, because we are helping others to see the true meaning of the Christian religion.
This true light is needed more today perhaps than ever before. Our world is three quarters pagan or neo-pagan. The neo-pagans are those who once were Christians but abandoned their religion, sometimes through their own fault, but more often than not, because of the bad example they were given by their fellow Christians. These are worse off spiritually than the pagans who have never heard of Christ or the true God. These latter have at least some idols, some ancestral deities, to whom they pay respect. The neo-pagans have only themselves to venerate, and they can find little spiritual uplift in this form of religion.
A large majority of today’s teenagers, in most so-called Christian countries have come to despise, or at least to neglect, the religion of their ancestors. In most cases the cause of this is that Christianity was never really put into practice in their own homes. There are cases of weak personality – they prefer to follow the mob rather than try to force their way against it. On the whole, the decline of religion among today’s youth is due to bad example from their elders.
However, there is an awakening among Christians. Thank God for that. The ecumenical movement is one good sign. It was not edifying for the young or the old to see Christians, not only separated from one another but engaged in a cold-war with one another. If there is anything each one of us can do with the aid of God’s grace, to help bring about a speedy reunion of all Christians, let us do it. The reform of the liturgy, introduced by the Second Vatican Council, is another help. The interest shown by the people in it is a healthy sign. The more it is studied, and the more sincerely it is practiced, the stronger will our faith be.
In today’s Gospel message, our Lord is asking each one of us to be a fearless apostle. We will be, if we live up to our religion at home and abroad. “Have no fear of men”, He tells us, “don’t mind what your fellowmen think of you, if you object to obscene language in your work-place. Don’t fear what will be thought of you if you say your grace before and after meals in a public restaurant or hotel. Don’t take that extra drink just because your companions at the party might ridicule your control …”
These acts and many others like them may seem trivial to some but they are giving testimony to the faith that is in us. Those who scoff at such things at first, may begin later to look into their own hearts, and come to realize what it is to be a man of principle. Eventually they may become men of principle themselves.
Let us remember our Lord’s promise: “So every one who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for Your counseling us to be strong-willed, prudent, persevering and filled with faith. Amen.
Jakarta, 19 June 2020
A Christian Pilgrim