Do Not Be Afraid
Today’s Gospel presents to us various instructions of Jesus on the behavior that the disciples must adopt in the exercise of their mission. That mission,
which we share
, is to share the good news of Jesus and to bring people into a personal relationship with Christ. What strikes me most in these instructions are two warnings: (a) the frequency with which Jesus refers to the persecutions and suffering which they will have to bear; (b) the insistence repeated three times to the disciples not to be afraid.
The warnings given by Jesus did come to pass as persecutions and sufferings marked the lives of the early disciples.
Because of being disciples of Jesus, they were persecuted, and they did suffer, many of them even to the point of death for their professed believe in Him.
Is this risk the same for us today as we go out into our secular society to spread the good news of the risen Lord? No, we are not likely to be persecuted and suffer physical pain as we attempt to evangelize our family and neighbours in our local community of Manotick and Ottawa. But if we do stand behind our faith and our Church it will not always be easy and we do have to be prepared for great challenges. In fact, in the recent Flourishing Congregations Survey of our Parish, the most often reason you cited for having difficulty in evangelizing was fear.
Jesus tells us in today’s gospel three times not to be afraid.
Do not be afraid to tell the truth
Do not be afraid of those that would kill the body
Do not to be afraid but to trust in Divine Providence.
Trust in God is at the heart of Jesus’ response to the fear and apprehension that we feel.
We are sent to proclaim in our families, with our friends and in our work place the gospel that which we have received. If we proclaim the gospel and acknowledge Jesus, he will in turn “acknowledge” us before God “in heaven”. We can expect rejection and humiliation. This should not deter us from our mission. We are not to give up the struggle or capitulate in the face of persecution. Like all of God’s creatures, including the sparrows, we are precious in God’s eyes and will not be abandoned. On the contrary, even the hairs on our heads are numbered by God. Trust in God is the appropriate response to suffering endured for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be afraid to be witnesses of Jesus. At the end Jesus summarizes everything in this sentence: “If anyone declares himself for Me in the presence of human beings, I will declare Myself for him in the presence of My Father in heaven”. (Matt 10:32) Knowing that we are in God’s hands and that God is with us, at every moment, we have the necessary courage and the peace to render witness and to be disciples of Jesus.
God bless you folks. Father Gerard