In the Name of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
FEAR. A word we can all relate to, especially now. Fear if you are a woman. Fear if you are black. Fear if you are Gay. Fear if you are an “illegal alien.” The list goes on and on.
St. Francis de Sales said, “Fear is a greater evil than the evil itself.” (“Letters to Persons in the World”, 6, 12) How true this is. Although fear is our body’s natural reaction to the bad things all around us, God tells us we are not to fear. As we are more often than not, not able to do anything about what we fear in the first place, why be afraid at all? God is in control. Even if we fear that terrible things will happen to us, God is there to keep us safe.
Listen to today’s Gospel.
26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed or hidden that will not be known.
27 What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops.
Nothing that man can conjure up in the dark, hidden from the eyes of men, is hidden from the eyes of God. God will take care of you and me. The day will come when we will see all evil for what it is, a passing vapor of terror, then, it will be no more. The eyes of faith will see this. The deeds of darkness will be uttered in the light.
Again, it is St. Francis de Sales who said, “It will be quite enough to receive the evils which come upon us from time to time, without anticipating them by the imagination.” (“Letters to Persons in Religion,” 4, 2) How true this is, as it echoes the words of Jesus in the sermon on the mount.
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Many fear those with guns and clubs and swords. We see the most dangerous things as those things which can hurt our human bodies. Nevertheless, Jesus calls us to a higher understanding. Yes, the body is important, and we would not want to say that it is not important, because we are a whole creature, body and soul together. Yet, some people are more concerned about the body than their eternal souls!
Jesus says, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” That is, we should not have a false fear, a fear of only those who may kill our bodies, but, a true fear (standing in awe of God), who alone can cast the body and soul into Hell. Our fear of God should be the “fear” of “respect” for our King. (St. Matthew)
Why is this so? Because, God cares for you and for me.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will.
30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Of sparrows there are many. God numbers these. Jesus says that not one of them dies, or falls to the ground, that the Father does not know of… and you and I are of more value than a whole flock of sparrows. Jesus is mercy toward us. John 3:16; Philippians 2 — these are the passages that declare how much God so loved the world (humankind).
Most of us have hair on our heads. Yet, there are some, like myself, who seem to suffer a loss of hair every day. Yet, God numbers the hairs of our heads. God CARES for us with or without hair!
God looks most closely to the hearts of people. How do we acknowledge (confess) God before men?
Do we do so fearfully, thinking we may suffer a loss of our social standing, if we are too “extreme” in our view and confession of Jesus Christ as our Lord and our Savior? Well, Jesus has something to say about our confession of Him before other people.
32 So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven;
33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
This is an important issue for us. We take an interesting quote from the Roman Breviary, Feasts of Confessors (Ambrosian, 6th century):
“Jesu, eternal Truth sublime,
Through endless years the same!
Thou crown of those who through all time
Confess Thy Holy Name.”
How important this is for all of us to remember the passionis, mortis et resurrectionis Jesu Christi (passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ)!
It is my purpose to CONFESS (acknowledge) Jesus before all men. I fear no one, because I know that God is faithful, that God cares for me.
Let us take up this Cross with Jesus, our Great Confessor!
“This confessor of the Lord Whose triumph
Now all the faithful celebrate, with gladness,
Erst on this feast day merited to enter into His glory.
Saintly and prudent, modest in behavior,
Peaceful and sober, chaste was He, and lowly,
While that life’s vigor, coursing through His members,
Quickened His being.”
(From Roman Breviary, Feasts of Confessors, Hymn Iste confessor Domini colentis, 8th century)
May we be like Him!