Homily for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 2020
Tiempo de lectura aprox: 2 minutos, 21 segundos
Do Not Be Afraid
Do not be afraid is the most common command in the Bible. Repeatedly God asked Abraham and the Israelites not to be afraid. He commanded them to listen to Him, to trust Him and to love Him with their all. In the Gospels, the Archangel Gabriel asked Mary not to be afraid. She had found favour with God. She will conceive and bear a Son who will be God with us. And in today’s Gospel (Matthew 10:26-33), Jesus asked his listeners, three times, not to be afraid.
Why this consistent command Do not be afraid? The answer seems to lie in what fear does to us. It distracts us from God, from His plans and purposes for us. Fear makes us close ourselves off to others. We become estranged and make for ourselves little bubbles, in which to hide, thinking they will protect us from our imagined woes. At a deeper level, fear corrupts us. It distorts our vision of the world. It puts us at odds with God, with His world, and worst of all with ourselves.
In Genesis 3, the devil used fear to get at our first parents and make them turn away from God. He made them imagine how horrible life would be if they continue to live on God’s terms. He presented to them a god that was heartless and a tyrant. And since fear had already distorted their perception, Adam and Eve could not recollect in whose image they were created. They could not remember the God who blessed them and gave them the garden as their possession.
Since then, fear seems to have had adverse effects on us. It leads us to sin. Sin,in the singular, according to Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB is the paradigm of all sin. It is the process of turning away from God and His commandments in pride and independence; thinking that we know better than God what is good for us.Does this strike a chord? Is it not what fear does to us? When we are afraid of dying, how often do we turn away from God and depend on ourselves?
These are the questions Jesus addresses in today’s Gospel reading. First, He addresses the question of fear of the unknown. There is that dark side, that uncertainty that grabs us, leaves us thinking what will become of us when things go a certain direction. We can easily become afraid of the damage that will be done. And this can make us desperate. Jesus’ answer to this question is whatever is hidden will be revealed. So do not be afraid. Wait and see what God will do.
Second, Jesus addresses the question of fear of death. We all know how scared we can be in the face of death. And imagine how we would react when we are threatened with the loss of our job. Or imagine who we would become when we realise, we will lose our home. That fear of loss, of grief can push us to go to extremes to protect what we treasure. Jesus’ answer to this fear is a call to a different kind of fear. It is a call for us to stand in awe at what God can do with us.
This fear is not the fear of God’s punishment nor of going to hell. It is the reverence of wonder that turns us towards God and makes us focus on what He is doing and can do for us. It is the fear that made the Blessed Virgin Mary to sing, ‘The Lord has done great things for me, Holy is His Name.’ And by honouring God’s name, Mary was re-membering, becoming again a member of God’s life-giving work. So, when Jesus said, fear God, He is saying worship God.
Finally, Jesus addresses the question of fear of worthlessness. Why is the celebrity cult the in-thing? There is that search for worth and for meaning. And this search comes with its own fear, the fear of rejection. The temptation then is to do whatever it takes to be accepted. But from newsflashes we know some celebrities end up trading their souls with the devil. Jesus’ answer to this fear is to point us to God in whom alone rests our worth. So do not be afraid. Listen to God and you will know your worth.
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