Sunday, Jun. 21st 2020

Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time

 

Today's Mass Readings

 

“Fear no one.”

That’s a bold statement of Christ, fear no one. In life, we are confronted by many things and many people who challenge this statement, fear no one. I imagine we have all experienced that fear. It may be having to tell a parent you broke mom’s favorite vase; or that you lost dad’s best wrench. Maybe it is confronting your bully. Perhaps, it’s speaking in front of a crowd or facing an employee. It may be sharing the Gospel with a family member. Fearing someone is very real.

So, what do we take away from this statement, fear no one? Jesus goes on to qualify what he said, ‘do not fear the one who harms the body, but the fear who can harm the soul.’ Our experience tends to be the opposite; we fear someone who could physically hurt us but ignore those who harm our soul. But this means we sacrifice what is truly important and ignore what really matters.

In the long history of the Church, men and women have had to stand guard against the evils of the world and proclaim the truth: all life is sacred, there are consequences to our actions, repent and believe in the Gospel, confess your sins and be saved, worship God alone; there is truth, and it is Jesus Christ. People have died confessing these things, have been persecuted, ignored, and ridiculed for these things. They are called unpatriotic, old-fashioned, nay-sayers, good-for-nothing. Rejected by families and friends. They feared what ignoring the truth meant for their souls and took courage to speak and act.

We are living in a difficult time. A time where we must shift our responsibilities from fearing what can harm us physically or emotionally, for that matter, to fearing what will harm our souls. But how do we do that? What do we do?

First, you have to know the truth. When is the last time you took the time to understand what the Church teaches on all of these difficult questions? Questions like abortion, labor, racism, medical treatments, the elderly, sex, gender, or the purpose of life. Do you except them? Do you recognize that this matters for the sake of your soul? Do you embody them and live them?

Second, do you defend these truths? When in conversation, do you proclaim what the Church teaches, believe it, and share it? This takes courage, takes commitment, takes knowledge, and most importantly, it takes love.

Love is the key. Love, real love, love that goes beyond the self for the other, is the third thing we must do. If we love God, if we love ourselves, if we love our neighbor—especially if they are our enemy—we understand what is at stake and desire the best for them, even if it is difficult. We are willing to speak up, to speak the truth, for those we love. While that fear is still there, we overcome it. Think of a mother, who of course loves her child but will correct and guide, even in the face of anger. Or think of a dad who saw his son fall into a pool and can’t swim, jump in without hesitation even though he is deathly afraid of water.

You have the opportunity, right now, to be a bold witness of truth. To proclaim Christ in the face of rejection, of misunderstanding, even of harm, to not fear! And with that, our Gospel ends with Jesus telling us this, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” In the face of this daunting experience, Jesus does not forget us, he proclaims us with the same boldness and courage to the one who, in the end, can give us far greater gifts than the world can provide.

So I tell you, fear no one.

Reflection by Fr. Etienne Huard, OSB

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