The Gospel according to Matthew: Jesus said to his Apostles:
“No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master.
It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master.
If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!
“Therefore do not be afraid of them.
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.”
Do not be afraid.
Jesus exhorts this three times alone in today’s Gospel. He repeats this hundreds of times throughout the bible. What are your deepest fears? This was the opening question at a retreat I attended a number of years ago. There was no introduction, no rapport-building, but bluntly, and plainly, “What do you fear?” Examining our fears helps us to know ourselves better. Good and natural fears are protective, like standing on the ledge of a rooftop or coming across a deadly snake in the bush, or fearing sin and displeasing God. All these things are important because the fear is directed at protecting life and goodness. Most of our fears, however, a founded on a lack of trust in God. It is directed at our self-preservation above the love of God. This is the kind of fear that stops God from working in us. It keeps us paralysed from making decisions. A frozen computer is of no help to anyone. It does not fulfil its design and purpose when it is frozen. Our deep personal fears need our attention because they are complex and their causes are hidden. They may have physical, psychological, social and/or spiritual origins. And each needs to be drawn out into the light before God so that we may experience His “Do not be afraid” as a personal encounter and freed of our fears that keep us from Him.
May you experience His “Do not be afraid” addressed to your fears today.