Jesus asks us to be his witnesses in our community, society and in the world. However, we sometimes lack the courage to witness openly to our faith, because it might stand us out in front of other people, and perhaps make us feel a little isolated. Jesus says to us what he said to his first disciples, “Do not be afraid, I am with you”. So let us bring our fears to Him and whatever doubts we may have of His companioning presence.
LET’S PAUSE AND FOCUS ON THAT FOR A FEW MOMENTS.
Lord, you give us strength when we are weak. We praise you, LORD HAVE MERCY.
Lord, you give us courage, when we are afraid. We thank you. CHRIST HAVE MERCY.
Lord, you give us new heart when we fail. We glorify you. LORD HAVE MERCY
‘I can get by with a little help from my friends…’ The Beatles 1968.
Jeremiah 20:10-13. Matthew 10:26-33
Once upon a time, there was a mouse that had a crippling fear of cats. A magician took pity on it and turned it into a cat. But then it became afraid of dogs. So the magician turned it into a dog. Then it became afraid of Panthers. So the magician turned it into a panther. Then it became afraid of hunters. At this point the magician gave up. He turned it back into a mouse saying, ‘Nothing, I do for you is going to be of any help because you have the heart of a mouse.’
I think that this little story fits most of us at some time or times in our lives…..Fear can be crippling; fear can bring about division, fear can be an overwhelming control mechanism of abused use of power. Its opposite is fearless, which runs together with freedom and daring to dream, as well as putting the Lord’s dreams into action. Jesus has given us this 3D vision of life, in the midst, of psychological land mines, jarring speed humps of jealousy, and zig zag road controls to try and keep us in place and to stay there!. However, as Christians, we have been called to fly like an Eagle, to soar on the updrafts of the Holy Spirit, and glide with love and mercy as we traverse the world in which we live. However, even in the skies, we are at risk; the anti-aircraft fire of suspicion, bitterness and treachery, often focus in on the Lord’s Missionaries……the Christ of faith still gets hunted down! However, the message of a hit song on the Radio some years ago was….’when the going gets tough, it is the tough that keep going.’ By Billy Ocean.
This ‘toughness’ is not being a robust military assault person, but rather being ‘in Christ’ and Spirited along as Jesus was, and Christ is today. As we go back to the story of the Mouse….he could not become a Panther or any of those alternatives that the Magician presented him with, unless his heart could change……..for us, our hearts need to continually undergo change, refinement, and conformant to the mind and heart of Jesus. St. Paul says in one of his letters, ‘I can do all things through Him who gives me the strength.’
Let’s take a look at the Prophet Jeremiah in today’s First Reading. Now, a Biblical Prophet was not a fortune teller of the future, nor some kind of charlatan; a Biblical Prophet is someone endowed with the Spirit to discern God’s will and be a living message for God’s People. Because Jeremiah was a Prophet, that did not mean that he was given a Gold Card from God, so that he got special treatment. To the contrary, Jeremiah was not really wrapped in the Mission that the Lord God had given him. His call and mission, was to speak the Truth of the Lord God, in season and out of season. Now, we have a saying in common parlance, ‘that the truth sometimes hurts’. Well for Biblical Prophets, it really did hurt….it stirred up the hearers, and caused retaliation against the Prophet and their Brotherhood. A common cause of reprisal against the Prophet was the fact that he was known by many of the people….the question on their minds would have been, ‘where did this guy get the authority to have a go at us, he is no goody goody’. We have heard something like that about Jesus, when he went back to his home town in the Gospel, didn’t we? The Lord God’s Truth is spot on all the time; it is a call to CHANGE, and re align our lives with the Covenant originally initiated by the Lord God which has an automatic knock on effect within God’s People.
No one takes enjoyment in being corrected, it cuts to the bone and a knee jerk reaction is often to refuse to listen and to acknowledge because of pride and a grip on power, and self possiveness. However, in the midst of these reactions from the listeners, it does not give joy to the Prophet…….it surrounds the Prophet – the Spokesperson, with the grisly invisible fence of FEAR! Many people throughout the ages and now, react that way.
Fear is a dreadful experience….it is real dread, in the root meaning of the word. Our world in so many places has the veil of FEAR in it and over it. The terrorist attacks overseas and in our own Country, Australia, keep us on edge! That is one of the most gruesome bi products of Fear……we are on edge! We don’t know how and when Terrorism will strike us. Last weekend, I was in one of our underground railway stations in Sydney; the platform was packed with people, one of the station staff dropped a metal trolley and it hit the ground with a ‘bang!’ I tell you, all of us jumped! The fear on our faces spoke volumes; there was a murmur among the people as we all looked from side to side. Fortunately, the Station member of staff apologised to us on the Public address system! A sense of relief prevailed……till the next time!
The Prophet Jeremiah, came to gradually know and belief, that the Lord God was above all the retaliations and revenge. So much so, that the Prophet could say from the depths of his being….’But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero; my opponents will stumble, mastered, confounded by their failure……’
In the Gospel for today, we see that Matthew and his Community take up on the important issue of not being afraid whilst on mission as a disciple of Jesus. Jesus assured them ‘Not to be afraid’. Jesus had the authority to say that, not just because he was the word made flesh, but Jesus and his disciples enjoyed a trusting, loving and forgiving relationship. We too, have the opportunity to enjoy that relationship too, otherwise, it’s all just words…… In the Gospel further on in today’s passage, we see that Jesus goes to great lengths to tell us how important and special we are as human being, then in response to his invitation to follow him. These days, and at all times throughout History, we all have an inner longing to know and be told that we are special! I personally don’t see that as a sign of personal weakness or incompleteness, psychological speaking; we shine and grow as human beings when we are told from someone who is a true friend, that we are special. Jesus did that for his disciples and does that for us every day.
Some days we wonder if we are special, and that in our missionary lives if the Lord God really cares? It seems that we often have tunnel vision at this times, whereas the Lord God has 3D, surround sound about our personal and community situations at all times. In doubt, we need to reflect upon this first reading, the Gospel for restoration. We need to get out of ourselves and continue in our positive appraisal of others, and where differences occur, conversation can be graced moments of reconciliation and mutual up building. It seems to me that so much of the world is filled with negativity….always looking for what’s wrong….I am a bit like that; a work in progress for me and for all.
Let us turn our negativity, which is often fuelled by fear, into positivity and joy! The Prophets of Doom and gloom have never had it so good! Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, smart phones, iPad, laptops, wiz bang wrist watches which can tell us the News as it happens…….according to the Reporters!!!! Ha ha, God’s Word is for all times and Seasons, the Word of God is in perpetual motion and has been since the beginning. We need to put down all our High Tech’ stuff for at least half an hour as day, and Listen to God with our heart, our mind and His Word given to us……’Speak Lord, your servant is listening……NOT, listen Lord, your servant is speaking.’ A nice solid/gentle prayer to follow……
A CELTIC PRAYER:
I rise today with God’s strength to direct me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eyes to look before me, God’s Word to speak to me, God’s hand to uphold me, God’s pathway before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me:- from falling into temptation: from thinking that I am not worth much, from thinking that God does not forgive me! Amen
Fr Kevin Walsh
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/
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FRACTION RITE: This takes place at The Lamb of God. We give thanks to God our Father, who watches over and looks for the least of his children. Though many, we become one as we receive the body and blood of His Son. We receive the strength to stand firm in difficulty, and we are nourished with that life which no one can take from us. In all things may God be glorified.