Spiritual Reading : Week starting on June 19th, 2017
Week of 19th June 2017 (reference: readings of Sunday 25th June)
12th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Readings: Jr 20,10-13; Psalms 68,8-10.14.17.33-35 (R.14c); Rm 5,12-15; Mt 10,26-33
We should not be afraid of living and proclaiming God’s word.
We could summarize the reflection of this week’s readings in three words: "do not be afraid!" This expression appears hundreds of times in the Bible. Saint John Paul II began his papacy with it in the famous homily for the mass celebrated in 1978.
What means to be afraid? Insecurity? Lack of confidence in our ability (or low self-esteem)? Not knowing how to handle new situations that come up in our life? Will it be the result of mass media, which only gives us bad news, disasters, terrorism, threats between countries? Will it will caused by the influence of those wanting to see us "bottoming out"? Fear has innumerable forms of expression and has many causes.
In today's Gospel (Mt 10, 26-33), Jesus explicitly tells us that in order to not be afraid of men, "of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul", i.e., their evil cannot reach our faith IF it is firmly based on God, because God is within us. Jesus continues, saying that we should only fear "that who can destroy both soul and body in hell", that is, the devil who can gradually erode our inner holiness. Finally, Jesus gives the formula to deprive this devil of power: everyone that declares himself in favour of Christ before men, He also will recognize him before the Father. You should know that the Father has counted even the hair of your head! So do not be afraid.
Of course! It is easy to define the formula of not being afraid. It is precisely in times of doubt, when we are consumed with fear, that we should look to God, put in his hands our weaknesses, as St. Paul says, "it is in weakness that I feel strong." When it seems completely irrational to relax, to distance oneself from problems and pray, it is then when we should put our live in God's hands, because He will not let us fall; He manifests himself and gives us the necessary strength to carry the cross.
As Vincentians, we are sometimes afraid of showing our faith, of evangelizing the Poor, of telling others that we do not spend our weekend at the bar, but in the slums, in hospitals and nursing homes. This fear is human, because the service we do to the poor is not appreciated; on the contrary, it makes us "seem weak". If we manage to overcome this first fear (fear to evangelize), little by little, will lose the other fears.
A friend of mine told me that he was afraid to pray in the house of the assisted person; he was afraid to take his rosary and pray on the bus, in the underground and on the airplane; he was even afraid to pray at home, in front of his family. However, when he started to take risks to do all these things, as if by magic, his fear began to disappear. Therefore, it is necessary to try the first time.
As Vincentians we also are afraid to invite our friends of faith to be part of our Conference, or talk about the SSVP at public events or in our own parish. This fear is also human. However, for our own good, God invites us to overcome this fear and show our ability to evangelize, as a gift of God.
In Florence, Italy, there is a museum displaying unfinished sculptures (works that the authors could not finish or that, according to them, were not perfect): they are like beautiful persons coming out of crude stone. When we see them (even in photos), we do not know if the artist tried to find the beauty of the polished stone that was inside the crude one, or if he simply withdrew the crude stone that hid the inner beauty. It should be like this with us: trying to remove our fears (our crude stone), we will be able to reach our interior, which is beautiful, it is strong, it is God.