The words of Jesus at the end of today’s Gospel reading are meant to inspire us and to instil fear in us at the same time. Listen/Read again to the words:

So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

Jesus is saying that this is all or nothing. Whenever we are put to the test, whenever we are persecuted, we are to hold firm; trust in the one who calls us by our name; the same one in whose name we are baptised.

In this country, we have far more freedom to practice our faith than in many other places around the world. But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, our faith is under attack from wolves in sheep’s clothing. Many of our beliefs are being undermined and at the same time other faiths are being protected. People who criticise other faiths are often called Islamophobic or antisemitic, there does not appear to be a similar word in common usage for the criticism or discrimination of Christians.

In the first reading we hear how Jeremiah lost his friends when he started working for the Lord. He believes his friends are just waiting for the opportune moment to catch him out and take out some sort of revenge on him. But Jeremiah has the Lord at his side, he has trusted in the Lord and is confident that God will not abandon him if he is ever in need.

In the second reading St Paul emphasises that sin entered the world through Adam and that sin has been conquered by the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We, as followers of Christ have to follow His teachings, to be able to be like Him; and by doing so, obtain eternal life with Him.

The Gospel we hear today is Jesus finishing off his message to the Apostles, reminding them, and us, that He will be with them [and us]. We are never to shy away from sharing our faith, we are to put our faith into action, let others see Jesus through what we do and what we say. What we do, shows that we love and what we say tells people why we love. We are being asked to give witness to our faith in our daily life. We should ask ourselves –

Am I happy with how I bear witness to my faith in my daily life? How can I improve how I give witness?

For me, there are some aspects of my daily life, where I am happy, but I know that I can do so much more. I manage to visit some of the housebound people in our parish, but could I reach more people if I spent less time on my Ipad?

Am I ever like Jeremiah, worrying about what other people think or say about me?

This is a thing which has held me back for a long time. I would worry about what people thought I was doing, what they thought about any motive I might have. More so, like Jeremiah I would worry that they were just waiting for me to make a mistake and home in on it. At times this has left me paralysed with fear of what if!

Jesus is asking us to trust in Him, we are asked not to worry about any form of persecution, if we are doing our best for Him then He will look after us. If we are put on trial for our Christian faith then He will be in the dock with us, He will never leave us alone. Just like we are never to deny Him.

When we worry about what other people are thinking or saying about us, is this because we form opinions of other people? Are we judging them in a way that we do not wish to be judged ourselves? One of the most common phrases in Scriptures is ‘Do not be afraid’. Jesus uses it three times in the Gospel we hear today. He tells us not to be afraid, for He will reveal all. He tells us not to be afraid of those who can kill the body, but that ‘we should fear the one who can destroy both our body and soul in hell.’ Finally, He tells usthere is no need to be afraid because He values us.

This week, I would like to encourage us all to ask ourselves, ‘what am I most afraid of? Then when we have identified that fear, pray to Jesus and ask for His help in conquering it. Remember He is with us, He is ready to help us, we only have to ask.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

CCC 852: the Spirit of Christ sustains the Christian mission
CCC 905: evangelizing by the example of life
CCC 1808, 1816: courageous witness of faith overcomes fear and death
CCC 2471-2474: bear witness to the truth
CCC 359, 402-411, 615: Adam, Original Sin, Christ the New Adam

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The success of the Diocesan Life in the Spirit programme which is running online on Thursdays.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation.
  • Those preparing to be ordained to the priesthood or diaconate.
  • The six children being baptised in St Bede’s this Sunday.