Mission Society of the Philippines



Mt 10:26-33

THERE WAS A man who has been visiting a psychotherapist for months because he had a fear of monsters living under his cot. Each time he would come to the clinic, the psychotherapist would ask him, "Have you made any progress?" The man’s answer has been always, "No". Since these meetings did not help him much, he decided to see another therapist. After a while, he went back to his first therapist. Again, the psychotherapist asked him, "Have you made any progress?" At this time, he answered, "Yes, I am feeling all better now!" The therapist asked, "What happened?" The man replied, "I went to another therapist and he cured me in just one session!” The therapist was curious, "What did he tell you?" The man replied, "He just told me to cut off all four legs of my cot and leave no space for the monster".

Fear is the common theme in our readings today. In the First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah said: "I hear the whisperings of many: Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!”. Today’s first reading reminds us of the hardships that the prophet Jeremiah had to endure. The Gospel, on the other hand, speaks of the disciples’ duty of witnessing to Christ in the world. During the time of Jesus, the early Christian communities were suffering persecution and some were losing their faith in the face of opposition. So, Jesus assures his disciples, “Do not be afraid”, and he said that three times. With these words, Jesus encouraged the disciples and attacked the fears that could make them abandon their mission. Jesus assured them that their persecutors could destroy the body, but never the soul. The coming of the Reign of God was inevitable and fear must not prevent the disciples from proclaiming it.Today’s gospel reading offers some significant messages.

Firstly, fear cannot prevent the missionaries from proclaiming the gospel. Jesus says, “Fear no one…  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light.” For the modern-day missionaries, one of the fears they feel is the fear of rejection. It is a rejection of the message that they bring. Why? Because often the gospel is not something that people would like to hear. The gospel message often brings discomfort to the listener. The gospel values often run counter to the values of the world, more especially, in a secularized world. But again, Jesus is telling the present missionaries that whatever fear they may feel, that is not a reason for them to stop proclaiming Him and the gospel.

Secondly, Jesus promises that missionaries will never be alone in their work. Jesus says, “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” God will take care of them, just as God take care of the sparrows. When one embarks on a journey or to a country that he is not familiar with, he would feel the fear. That is true to missionaries. I would say that the fear that the “old” missionaries had, was graver than the fear that the “present” missionaries have today. The fear of isolation and loneliness may not be a problem today because communication these days is easily and readily available. I would say it is the fear of being rejected because missionaries are foreign and different from the local people. But Jesus assures them of their worth. They may be different but that does not make them “lesser” than anybody else. As human beings, they have dignity and worth. And God would not abandon them. God would always take care of them.

The missionaries of today also receive a word of assurance from Jesus, and thus, they need not fear. They simply trust in God’s guidance and providence.

Speaking of fear, there is much of it in our world today. For instance, the climate change has created fear of what will happen to Mother Earth in the near future. Also, the IS attacks and terrorism have also brought fear to the international community. We do not know how long these attacks would last. Moreover, before, what we know as common fears are acrophobia (fear of heights) or claustrophobia (fear of confined places). But nowadays newspapers and news channels would talk often about xenophobia (or fear of foreigners) and islamophobia (or fear of muslims). These have become the talking points in today’s politics, particularly in the West.

For us, believers, we have our way of combatting fears. Amidst all these fears, we need to go back to the basics of faith. What we need is faith and trust in God. Fear is useless; it has no value. Fear loses its power over us if we choose to trust in the Lord. All human fears can be overcome. They can be dispelled in the light of a living and growing faith in God. Amen. 

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