Into hell for a heavenly cause- Saturday, 14th Week in ordinary time – Mt 10:24-33
The last part of the mission discourse highlights the courage that the apostles need to have. Jesus has clearly spelt out what He expects from his apostles and what they are to expect when they go out in His name. Jesus however, does not leave his apostles abandoned in the face of vengeful religious bigots. He wants them to be unafraid knowing that He is with them.
Fear is good! It’s foolish to be fearless in the face of a tiger. Only a stupid man would treat a wild tiger like he would treat a domesticated cat. Fear helps us to be cautious and take precautions, lest we throw ourselves in harm’s way.
However, fear that constantly paralyzes us is harmful. I presume when Jesus says, “do not worry, and do not fear” He is calling his disciples to place their trust in Him. If His eye is on the sparrow, insignificant as this bird may seem, then how much more is His eye on us?
St Matthew clearly understood the dangers his infant community faced from the Jews. The Early Christians had faced persecutions that ranged from flogging to death. The ‘them’ of verse twenty six was clear; Matthew knew who the adversaries were and the pain and persecution they could unleash. He wants his community to be prepared, yet not paralyzed, by what they are to encounter.
To this infant community, Matthew has words of courage. It is for this reason that four times in this brief passage he assures his listeners not to be afraid. He is reiterating a message to bring assurance and He backs it up with an example. If two sparrows, the cheapest life in the market, has not missed God’s eye, how much will He not care for His chosen ones?
What was marvellous and admirable of the early Christian community was their faith. They knew that in professing their faith in Jesus Christ, their fate was sealed. Jesus himself had proclaimed that,” a disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master.” What was to befall the master was to be the fate of the disciple. In short, your faith determined your fate.
The community of Matthew had known too well the fate of their master Jesus. He was crucified and given the worst form of execution. Knowing this, the followers of Christ willingly march into ‘hell’ for a ‘heavenly’ cause. In reflecting on this pericope of the mission discourse, we are invited to evaluate our own brand of commitment to Christ’s mission receiving the same assurance He gave his first followers; “be not afraid”
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