Do not be afraid. How often do we hear that phrase in our Gospel? Do not be afraid. Well, it’s over 300 times to be sure, and arguably – if you include phrases like fear not or other variations of do not be afraid – then there are 365… one for each day of the year.
So why then do we hear this so often? What is it that Jesus is trying to tell us? In this short Gospel today, Jesus opens up for us exactly why we should not be afraid.
I could, in this sermon, take the time to give you comfort in the current climate. Right now, we really do need to hear do not be afraid. I could talk of the pandemic and the various huge problems that have come from being in lock down. But what I’m going to do, is break apart the three times in this short passage that Jesus tells us to not be afraid and explain why it’s so vital to being a Christian today in this fearful place, and tomorrow, when all of this is over and we once again feeling secure. This is a lesson that goes beyond our immediate anxieties and worries and fears… and needs to be understood in our daily lives for all time.
So let’s start at the very beginning of our Gospel. Verse 26. In this verse there is a double fearlessness.
The first element is that there is nothing covered that will not be unveiled, and the second is that they should not be afraid to speak with boldness what Jesus has told them.
We are first being told that truth will win. The ultimate truth will always win out. When Christians are persecuted around the world – the people doing the persecution often think they are suppressing the message of the Gospel – but they are not, and they never will. Throughout history leader after king after emperor has tried to stamp out the truth of Jesus Christ and every single time without fail… they fail. Truth will prevail. Truth will triumph. And there is no greater truth than God.
And understanding that, we are led to the reality of what it means to be a teacher of that truth. Teachers of the truth of the Gospel – that’s you and that’s me and that’s every Christian alive – must understand that what they have been told and what they have learnt about Jesus Christ must be proclaimed from the rooftops!
“What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light. What you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops.”Matthew 10:27
The direction is clear – to be bold and full in our sharing of the truth of Jesus Christ – but – and there is a but here – you first need to have heard that truth, whispered in your ear in the darkness.
First, a teacher must listen. Must hear what God has in store for them. What it is that God wants them to do in this life. This time on earth. We often call that discernment… discernment to hear the call of God in our life and find our vocation. Within that vocation through prayer, meditation on and in scripture, the sacraments, we hear the voice of God whispering in our ear in the darkness telling us how and what to proclaim.
It could be to stand at a lectern and teach scripture. It could be bandaging the arm of a child who has fallen. It could be marriage and a family; it could be to be a father to a child who hasn’t one. There are as many ways of proclaiming the truth from the housetops as there are ways that God loves us.
But without that direction and whisper anything we do is in our own power. Our own ego. And we must be prepared to say no to things that are not of God and of proclaiming that ultimate truth.
That brings us to the second commandment to not be afraid. This time it’s in verse 28 and what we are being told – very simply – is that there is nothing – there is no punishment or other evil that can be done to us for proclaiming the truth – that compares to the punishment of disobedience to God.
There’s another way of sayi