Twelfth Sunday, Year A: Jeremiah 20:10-13; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33
Jesus teaching the Twelve to fear no one, could seem addressed directly to us and our times. I wonder whether the fears that fuel our reactions and shape our mishaps, which forge our crimes, are ever acknowledged and owned. As I listen to the news or peoples’ problems—or when I am upset by my own fears—the violent energy of fear surfaces most strongly when it is ignored or denied.
Too often we translate those fears into “ethical” principles, more presumed than examined, allowing them to infect unconsciously our lives, our relationships and the world in which we live.
For Jesus to say, “Fear no one,” demands that I first stop and recognize that I am afraid and give that fear a name. I cannot afford to let it work on me unconsciously and pretend that I’m not afraid. Jesus even goes so far as to point out of whom we should not be afraid, but whom we should fear! For him being afraid is no weakness. It could be the foundation of prudence and wise choices.
And addressing all this in the context of the Twelve, he’s also implying that I can’t handle my fears on my own. I need to explore them with those closest to me to grasp them as I can’t by myself.
How many of my fears arise from my unrealistic expectations of life? Jesus uses some very innocuous examples to illustrate how limited is my scope. Our heavenly Father may be able to know every sparrow that falls to the ground, but how could I? And the hairs on my head? I have no control over them. The point is how limited I am and that most of my life is necessarily beyond my control; why do I hope that I, of all human beings, will be exempt from inconvenience or even tragedy?
Might not beginning with my fears be the first step on the path of facing them with courage? And might not that very path bring me home to God?