Gospel: Matthew 10:26-33
Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
My brothers and sisters in the Lord!
Fear is one of our most primitive instincts. It is said that even a baby can experience fear, the fear of falling, of being dropped, and throughout life, no matter how old we are, we never manage to shake off our fears. Each week men and women, young people and children come to this church. There we all sit, with faces sometimes solemn, impassive and even carefree. But behind the masks there are real people and doubtless, real fears and anxieties.
It is these real people with their real fears, you and me included, that our Lord is addressing today’s Gospel as not only once but three times he tells us not to be afraid. Perhaps we could discern in that threefold “Do not be afraid,” a reference to three kinds of fear that commonly truble human beings.
The first are hidden fears or the fears we cannot or will not or even dare not share with others and they might include fears about our health, our sinfulness, our future or concerning our dear ones. And Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, because everything no hidden will be made clear” and it is indeed already fully revealed to our Father in heaven, because he knows all, he understands all, and through his Son Jesus, urges us not to allow our fear to get the better of
Secondly, there is the dangers from outside which included the fear of war, the breakdown of law and order, the fear of growing violence. And Jesus says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” We have a Father who cares for you. Think of two tiny sparrows; if one of those tiny creatures fall to the ground, The Father knows all about it. And he knows all about us, too, He knows us through and through; and we matter to him, he knows
the very number of hairs on our heads.
Finally, there’s the fear of being lost in the immensity of the universe, like a speck of dust amidst billions of people who might inhabit the world, lost as drop of water is lost in the ocean. We might not dare to say so, but sometimes we find it hard to believe that God, with this very
vast universe to look after, can afford us anything more than a token of divine attention. Jesus says again, “there is no need to be afraid”: as he has told us, our father knows what happened to tiny sparrows; and then he adds with a gentle smile: “you are worth more than a hundred
“Do not be afraid”: the words are especially powerful because the one who speaks them is our friend, who really knows us, who loves us and whom we love; he is a friend we can trust. Life
without friends would be intolerable and it’s in the light of all that human friendship means that we can cry out in the words of the old hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus”. It is Jesus who brings us new heart today as, over and over again, he urges us not to be afraid. This doesn’t mean that all of our fears suddenly disappear but rather that they don’t paralyze us and they don’t dominate our lives, because like in the first reading from Jeramiah, we can say, “the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero”. Each Mass brings not only an assurance that Jesus has proved himself our friend even as he shed his blood for us, but also as a promise that he takes away our finally fear, the fear of what awaits us as his friends and so he guarantees us a place in that home where all tears are wiped away and all fears finally disappear. Let us truly persevere in our prayer knowing that our loving Father is there always ready and willing to calm all of our fears and anxieties as long as we completely trust in the immense love he offers us.