Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Matthew 10: 26-33

"Do not be afraid"

Last week we heard of Jesus' pity for the crowds who were "like sheep without a shepherd". He gathered his Apostles and sent them out, as labourers into the harvest fields, to proclaim the Good News. We are today's apostles, sent by Christ to witness to him and to bring the news of salvation to others. We do this in a variety of ways, but especially to the extent that we shape our lives according to his teaching and example. From personal experience we know this is not always easy, indeed to be faithful to the Way of Christ can be very demanding, it is the Way of the Cross.

Jesus knew this too. In today's Gospel he warns us of the opposition we may have to face as we try to follow his way faithfully. True, we are not likely in our part of the world to run the risk of being put to death for Christ's sake. At the same time, we have to acknowledge that the mood of our day does not support a religious approach to life. Our society generally does not hold to or foster Christian attitudes or high moral standards. There is a very strong secular campaign against religious belief and activity. So, to follow Christ does at times demand that we swim against the tide of the prevailing culture. And that can get tough.

Hence the need for today's words of encouragement. Three times in the short passage of Gospel we hear today, Jesus says to us "Do not be afraid". Three times - as though he knows we need the repeated assurance. Do not be afraid of the negative attitudes of others; they cannot really harm you. Do not be afraid of your own sinfulness; you have a most forgiving Father. Do not ever be afraid of being forgotten; why, the Father cares for every single fibre of your being.