Reflection for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
You may have heard some people claim they do not fear anything or anyone. That is not completely true. There is always something to fear in this life. Even the bravest among us have phobias.
While fear is a significant part of our human reality, it can also become unreasonable, especially when we allow it to overwhelm us.
God knows our framework and susceptibility to fear, which is why the entire Bible has about 365 passages that instruct us not to be afraid; that covers every day of the calendar year. Why should we not be afraid even when situations around us suggest otherwise? Because God says so”.
The Ordeal of Jeremiah
The First Reading from the Prophet Jeremiah (20:10-13) tells us about the Prophet’s confidence in divine protection against the plots of his enemies. The prophet Jeremiah announced that God would judge Israel’s sins with an exile to Babylon. And then he lived through the horror of his predictions. The book of Jeremiah shows a graphic but important picture of how disobedience leads to destruction.
Jeremiah became a targeted prey because of the adverse nature of his oracles. He faced physical threats, including being lowered into a waterless and muddy pit, because he revealed that the only way the people could survive was to surrender to Babylon (Jeremiah 38:6).
In the passage we read today, the prophet decried the evil of those who were his friends but who now wish that he goes down. In all these, Jeremiah had confidence in the saving power of God, so he declared, among other things:
But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure, they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
Fear No One.
In the face of his troubles and tribulations, Jeremiah had confidence that the Lord was with him, which meant there was no need to fear. He asked to witness the vengeance God will take on his persecutors because he entrusted his cause to God.
In the Gospel Reading (Matt. 10:26-33), Jesus told the Twelve Apostles, “Fear no one.” He gave this charge within the apostolic assignment of proclaiming the Gospel. He encouraged them to be outspoken and not be afraid of persecution because they would surely come, especially when the truth is proclaimed.
Jesus when further to tell them not to be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Here we understand clearly that the real death is the death of the soul. The enemy’s target is not the body; he is a soul killer, and the death of the soul means eternal separation from God.
Why you should fear No One.
We live in a world that breeds uncertainty; consequently, fear comes to us as a default. It is not an overstatement that most people live in fear even when it does not change anything or make sense.
Taking up the seat of the president of the United States of America during the great depression, President Franklin D Roosevelt told Americans during his inaugural speech, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That classical statement of FDR is still valid today. Beyond that, however, let us give some reasons why you should fear not.
God is with you: In the Book of Isaiah (41:10), God said, “Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
In life, who you have is better than what you have. And the best treasure anyone can have is God. Jesus said in the Gospel of John (15:5), “Cut off from me; you can do nothing.”
God cares about you: The Book of Psalm (27:10) says, “If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.” That means that God cares about you and will not allow what is bigger than you to overwhelm you. For every divine orchestrated mission, there is a corresponding divine provision.
God has a plan for you: The Book of Psalm (139:14) says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. That means that there is a divine purpose within the context of your being. No wonder, in Jeremiah (29:11), God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
God will sustain you: Fear often arises when you imagine what will become of you in the future beyond the benefits of today. God will surely sustain whatever he starts. St. Paul writing to the Philippians (1:6), says, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” So, cast that burden on the Lord. He will sustain you; He will not permit the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22).
Moving Forward: God has got you back!
There is no scriptural guarantee that life will be trouble-free. In fact, Jesus told his disciples in the Gospel of John (16:33) that they would have troubles in the world, but he added, “Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”
Let us recall that fear is one of the spiritual weapons of the enemy. St. Paul says to Timothy (2 Tim. 1:7), “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
As you march into a new week, keep this in your mind, “fear not, because God says so.
God bless you.