Before we get to the gospel let’s talk a little bit about the Old Testament characters that were mentioned in the first and second reading: Adam, Moses, and Jeremiah. All three of these men had issues with trust, and that’s going to set the context for how we can better understand the gospel’s command for us to fear no one. Adam put his trust and his source of confidence in himself. This was a terrible idea and resulted in that original sin when he chose his will instead of God’s will.
Later on in salvation history and a little bit better, we have Moses. Moses tried to put his trust and confidence in the Lord but he kept doubting. When the Lord in the burning bush told him to go to pharaoh, Moses agreed but feared that he wasn’t a good public speaker and begged the Lord to send his brother Aaron along with him. Later on as the Israelites wandered the desert, Moses was ultimately denied entry to the Promised Land because he still couldn’t get past his doubt; the Lord had told him to strike a rock for it to split open and have water come forth for the people to drink, and Moses agreed but he feared it wouldn’t work and hit the rock twice.
Later on in salvation history and a little bit better, we have Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a… prophet, not a bullfrog, a prophet. But Jeremiah didn’t want to be a prophet. He was scared that the people would attack and kill him like they tended to do with prophets who called them out for their failures. Jeremiah never got past that fear but as we heard today he didn’t have many doubts that the Lord could rescue him.
Later on in salvation history and hopefully a little bit better, we have us. We have been told to fear no one. And the key difference that makes this possible is Jesus Christ. If we tried to fear no one because we trusted in our own strength, that would be the mistake of Adam… but we know better because it is only Jesus Christ who conquered death and sin and he is our strength. If we tried to fear no one but kept doubting how God will act, that would be the mistake of Moses… but we know better because Jesus Christ has shown us that the Father loves us and knows every hair on our head. If we tried to fear no one but kept doubting whether God will act, that would be the mistake of Jeremiah… but we know better because Jesus Christ didn’t hesitate to save us even though it meant his Passion and Cross.
So we have the grace through the Spirit of Christ to live without fear. And of course I don’t mean the natural fear that happens in life. If you slip on a ladder and are falling to the ground you should fear, that’s natural. What I’m talking about is the fear of what comes next, the fear of big picture things. Jesus says that if we acknowledge him before others he will acknowledge us before the Father, and we have nothing to fear. If our lives acknowledge Christ and our belief and actions speak of him in the light and proclaim him from the rooftops, we don’t have to fear the judgement of God. God loves us more than we realize and more than we love ourselves; we just have to love Him back a little bit and in the end, that love is where we will dwell. Nothing scary about that.
[Today we are excited to have with us a young man who is an example to us of trusting in Christ and following him without fear. Please come forward Ricky. I introduced Ricky many months ago but in case you weren’t at that Mass, Ricky is one of our school students. He was baptized in another Christan community and we are profoundly thankful to them for introducing Ricky to faith in Christ Jesus. By the example of his classmates, Ricky had begun to hear God call him to explore his love and the life of his Son through the Catholic Church. And so with the consent of his parents and after a time of preparation, it’s now the appropriate time to receive Ricky into full communion with us by the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist.]
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.