“Have no fear”, says the Lord Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel. Rather, be courageous and proclaim the good news of the Gospel “from the housetops”. Upon our first reading, perhaps many of us are eager to express our confidence in the Lord. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rm 8:31). Yet had this Sunday’s Gospel passage included the verses immediately preceding it, perhaps we would be less inclined to act with such courage.
Directly before the Lord’s command to “have no fear” he warns of the coming persecutions. He foretells that his followers will be handed over to the authorities, many will be killed and hated, and even members of the same family will be pitted against each other. Are we not seeing exactly this in our own time? Around the world, for various reasons, Christians are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus and the Holy Trinity, just as they have always been. Cardinal Ratzinger reminds us that from the earliest days of the Church “bearing the name ‘Christian’ was a crime”. Therefore, we should not be surprised when we face similar accusations; truly, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9).
Although our current age faces different trials and circumstances, we must not forget that it is the same Lord who is providentially guiding all of history, and that his grace will sustain us if we place our trust in him. Yet in today’s Gospel, Jesus is asking for more than trust and courage – he is asking us to have a proper perspective, to see the unfolding of reality clearly, and to live truthfully. I would say that in our age, this admonition could not be more timely.
We live in a time where there is great confusion about when human life begins, who is female and who is male, and the nature of love (particularly spousal love). Even the very existence of objective value, intrinsic evil, and Truth has been called into question. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10), and ultimately it is faith in God that allows us to perceive things clearly and truthfully. The Lord Jesus echoes the wisdom of the Proverbs when he states, “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” (Mt 10:28). In other words: have a clear perception about what is really important. It is this principle that gives life order; abandon it and you abandon wisdom itself, and open the door to the chaos, confusion, and relativism that plagues modern morality.
It can be tempting, usually out of sincere kindness and compassion, to want to appease the modern world, and downplay the seriousness of its errors. But we must remember that we are called to sanctify and edify the world – and we can only do this by proclaiming the truth without fear, and by living holy lives ourselves. So, let us live without fear of those forces that cannot truly harm us; let us live with a clear perception of reality and God’s providence; and let us never cease placing radical, loving trust in the Triune God, from whose love we can never be separated.
Kevin Ponte – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
Fot. Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash.com