Readings: Jer 20:10-13; Rm 5:12-15; Mt 10:26-33
Do not be afraid and fear no one are the phrases that best sum up the central message of this Sunday. Concealed things and darkness tend to scare kids and some adults too! Children are afraid of the dark as it conceals scary things, and look under their beds at night for the bogeyman. Even for us adults, fear robs us of our freedom to take the right direction or to be transformed. We fear the unknown. We are afraid to travel to some foreign countries mainly because we might die there. When we get our doctor’s report that shows signs of cancer, our first emotion is fear. However, we feel better when the doctor reassured us that with treatment, all will be alright. Jesus did exactly that with his disciples.
In the Gospel passage, Jesus gives us such reassurance. He tells us "Do not be afraid." Do not be afraid to speak on my behalf and to proclaim the Gospel clearly and in the open. Christ is always beside those who witness to his name; those who dare to challenge the darkness of this world by speaking out the truth of the Gospel. These reassuring words are in fact repeated, and in the second time we are told not to be afraid of death nor of being martyred for the sake of Christ. Furthermore, we are assured that if we give witness before the world, Jesus will witness for us before the Father. "So, there is no need to be afraid." During the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, these words inspired Félicité, a Rwandan woman and her friends. As the militia truck picked them up from their village, she told her friends: "The time has come to bear witness. Let us go!" They were all led away to a mass grave where they died praying and singing!
In our Christian life and work situations there are moments when we have to bear witness to the Gospel under very difficult conditions; moments when we have to work in the midst of criticism. It is in such moments that we must recall these comforting words. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul". There is only one who must be feared, God, when we choose infidelity and disobedience. The message we take home this Sunday is threefold. 1) The Gospel gives us the reassurance in the words of Jesus, "Do not be afraid." 2) In our life and ministry there are moments when we have to go the right direction in the face of opposition by others. 3) In moments of threat or persecution, let us be confident that Christ is there to support us. “Do not be afraid.”
©2017 John S. Mbinda