Today’s Gospel: Matthew 10:24-33
Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
Three times in today’s gospel Jesus tells his apostles not to be afraid. Afraid of whom? It seems Jesus is preparing them (and us who hear Him today) for a time of persecution as a result of speaking about Him and making Him known. What we hear Him say, we are to proclaim “on the housetops.” If we acknowledge Him in this way before others, and speak about Him without fear of the consequences, He promises to point us out to the Father. We are warned that we may even be killed, but that our souls will remain alive and well. His care for us is intimate, knowing even the number of hairs on our head. In this offer of intimate love, He is asking us to trust Him.
Speaking on behalf of Jesus does not always take the form of words. In fact, the body speaks a language that is often more powerful. In daily life, people watch what we do, who our friends are, the places we go, the way we dress, the things we read. This body language aligns us with Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church, and most people know by our example and our way of life that we follow Him. Are we still persecuted? Indeed! There are conversations “concealed” that are about us. There are times of great distance even within relations in the family because all the “Church stuff” is just too much for some. Temptations arise in us to be afraid—of being ridiculed, labeled, judged, and cast off.
St. Benedict experienced the need for reform in the culture of his day. And the need to be doers of the Word, not only hearers. “We realize that we will be heard for our pure and sorrowful hearts, not for the number of our spoken words,” he said. A heart is pure when it is empty of all but God’s Word and the desire to remain in God’s Word.
And so we must consciously choose to understand our worth in Jesus’ eyes and His promises to take care of us. Returning to Him often in prayer when facing fears reassures us that the Father is watching over us and will protect us as we make efforts to become like our Teacher.
In what ways do I give witness in my life to Jesus and what He has revealed to me? Is my body speaking a language that others read as the gospel?
Dear Jesus, banish all fear from my heart. Give me courage to proclaim you each and every moment of my life. Remind me to return to you often, to hear your words of intimate care for me. I want to acknowledge you before all whom I love and meet each day. St. Benedict, pray for us!
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Cynthia Ann Costello