Three Reasons Not to Fear

Sunday, June 21, 2020, Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
•Jer 20:10-13
•Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35
•Rom 5:12-15
•Mt 10:26-33

By Marc Massery

In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, three separate times Jesus tells His apostles not to be afraid.  

Fear of Untruth and Injustice

First, the Lord says, “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known” (Mt 10:26). In other words, Jesus tells His apostles not to fear because no matter how much the world may neglect the truth in our age, the truth will ultimately prevail.

The world is filled with injustice. Criminals often go unpunished and the innocent often die without good reason. We ought to fight for justice here on earth as best we can, but we should remember that we will never truly achieve it. So the injustice and chaos of this world ought not intimidate us. The Lord calls us to have hope that no matter how much injustice plagues this earth, He holds us in the palm of His hand. Many in our world, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, put too much trust in elected officials to set the world right. While we ought to hope and pray for righteous leaders, only Christ can save our world.

Fear of Illness and Death

Jesus continues, “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” (Mt 10:28). None of us can escape death, and illness is part of life. Of course, we ought to care for the health and well-being of those around us, especially the most vulnerable. But our salvation does not lie in our health. In fact, even today Christians around the world are dying for their faith. Thankfully, Jesus promises His followers salvation. Jesus’ salvation includes the resurrection of our bodies, so though we will die here on earth, we can hope to live forever in Heaven. We only need to follow Christ and trust in His promises. 

Fear of a Disinterested God

But why would God care about us? Jesus continues, “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” (Mt 10:29-31).

God is all-powerful and all-knowing. We, on the other hand, are frail and naïve creatures. But even more frail and naïve are little birds, and according to Christ, God cares deeply for them. He knows when one sparrow flies out of its nest and rests on the ground. So, how much more must He care for us? Our littleness and foolishness doesn’t deter Him. We can trust that the Lord cares not only about us in a general sense, but that He cares about you and me individually, our thoughts, our fears, and all that’s going on in our lives. How comforting it is to know that the creator of the world knows and cares about us this very moment and all moments. 

This Gospel ends with Jesus saying, “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” (Mt 10:32-33). If we were to fear anything, it ought to be ourselves. We are frequently our own worst enemies. In a culture that often accuses devout Christians of being unreasonable, how tempting it is to deny the Lord before others. But we mustn’t. No matter the cost, we need to stand firm in our conviction that Jesus is Lord. Should we waiver in our faith, the consequences could be dire, as Jesus says above. 

On the other hand, Jesus said to St. Faustina in her Diary, “Do not fear; I Myself will make up for everything that is lacking in you” (435). Ultimately, it’s not up to us to save us from ourselves. Only Christ can give us the grace we need to follow Him faithfully. He promises to make up for our deficiencies if we just rely on Him. 

So let’s pray to the Lord today for the faith to stick by Him no matter the circumstances. Let’s pray that we have the courage to make Him our top priority, no matter what others may say or do. 

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

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