Do not be afraid.” This simple statement holds much for each one of us. In this Sunday’s Gospel[1] it is repeated twice[2] by the Lord and later on he says “there is no need to be afraid.[3]

Fear is something we all experience – some more than others. Sometimes it can be helpful – we need to run away from a vicious dog, for example. But fear does not belong completely to the living out of our Christian vocation. There is only one fear we should have – that I will explain later on.

Jesus has taught us that God our Father is merciful, forgiving, interested in every aspect of our lives. We need not to be afraid when sharing the Good News, or endeavouring to lead a holy life. We have a providential loving Father. And in this Gospel passage Jesus says we are more precious than sparrows – “Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.[4]

The only thing to fear is losing God, loss of trust in God. This lack of trust begins when I look for security through my own efforts, in the works and wealth of my own making. Jesus criticized the feverish efforts, the anxious haste and worry of those worldly people, who refuse to grant God any part in their lives.[5]

The only fear is “fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.[6] We are called to have the vision of heaven in our minds as we journey on in our Christian lives. To go somewhere you have to know where you are going in the first instance, before you even plan your journey.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.[7] The vision of hell should remind us of the consequences of our sin. However, we are not to be discomforted nor feel helpless. We have the grace of God, the grace of God to work with in order to live holy lives, lives that lead to the blessedness of Heaven.

Jesus here is “putting suffering in perspective. The disciples (and each one of us) are called upon to keep our focus on God. Those who can harm the body do not have ultimate power; God does. Still persecution and suffering cannot be avoided or prevented. But Jesus reassures his disciples (and us) that God knows and cares about what happens to his children.”[8]

So, remember “There is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows” and “every hair on your head has been counted.”[9]

 

Sr. Rosaleen Shaw

[1] Mt. 10:26-33

[2] Mt. 10:26, 28

[3] Mt. 10: 31

[4] Mt.10:29-31

[5] https://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2020/06/21-june-2020-12th-sunday-year-a/

[6] Mt.10:31

[7]Ibid

[8] https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/liturgical-year/sunday-connection/

[9] Mt.10:31