Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Do not be afraid.” This is the message of Jesus in today’s gospel. Yet, right now all over the world there are many things that we are afraid of. We have the COVID-19, even though Australia has managed to control and improve the situation, unlike a few months before. Yet, there are still fears of a “second wave” that could happen anytime. Also, there are still a lot of people who are considered “active cases” and new cases are still coming up here so we can’t really say that we’re out of it. Just recently, Indian and Chinese soldiers had some skirmishes along the Indian and Chinese borders which so far has killed 20 Indian soldiers. Just imagine if these two most populous countries would go into full-blown war, the effects on the world would be catastrophic. Aside from that, we have had the death of George Floyd in the USA and then various occasions of violence from rallies from the “Black Live Matters” movement, numerous domestic violence cases, murder, assaults, robberies, and many more. So it’s really difficult to say that we shouldn’t be afraid.
In the gospel for today, Jesus assures his disciples that they shouldn’t be afraid. That they must continue to testify and witness for Jesus. I think when the gospel according to Matthew was written, there were reports of Christians being persecuted by the Roman empire. Naturally, the Christians who were living at that time are very afraid of what would happen to them. Maybe, they had heard of incidents where Christians were not only arrested, but also had been crucified like Jesus; some may have been fed to the lions during the Roman festivals, some may have been poured with oil and burned alive to serve as lights at night and many more atrocious ways of martyrdom. That’s why Matthew was reiterating what Jesus had told them years before, that they shouldn’t be afraid.
So why should we not be afraid? We are assured that our Heavenly Father loves us so much because he also takes care of the sparrows who are just worth a few cents. And even if we end up losing our lives here on earth, we shouldn’t be afraid for we are precious to our heavenly Father.
I was once driving on the street when I saw a bumper sticker that said: “If you were arrested because you are a Christian, will there be enough evidence to get convicted?” As Christians, we are called to witness for Christ. We are called to preach Christ wherever we go. We may not need to go out to the street with a loudspeaker and preach on street corners. What I think is more important is to live out the values of being a Christian as our most effective way of being a witness. There’s a saying that “We should preach always and use words only when necessary.” So it is in our actions of being a Christian that people would be more convinced that we’re really witnessing for Christ. As Jesus has instructed his disciples, “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.”
So let us do our best in being brave and not being afraid. We are precious in God’s eyes, so that whatever happens to us here on earth, God will take care of our soul. Secondly, we should preach the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go. We should speak in the light and proclaim his gospel on the rooftops for it is through the gospel of Jesus that we can all become better persons, closer to God and preserve our souls for eternal life.