Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.
‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.
‘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.’
Three times in the Gospel of today, Christ tells the disciples not to be afraid. They are being sent out and their encouragement is an admonition not to fear. He tells them that all that is unclear to us now will one day be made clear. The truth will win out in the end. Justice will be done eventually. The truth will out and the truth, as Saint John wrote, will set you free. Christ tells them to proclaim his message and his identity form the housetops. He encourages them to be fearless in their witness to him even when this witness might lead to their suffering or even death.
Christ then tells the disciples that they are of infinite worth, like everyone else, in the eyes of the Father. He tells them that God knows them intimately, that he has counted the hairs on their heads as the saying puts it, he tells them once again that there is no need to be afraid. He instructs them to fear not the loss of the body but rather the loss of the immortal soul. He invites them and by extension ourselves to look after the affairs of the soul or spirit and to give them the generous attention that we currently give to the body.
Finally Christ makes a promise, a simple promise and a just promise to his disciples and to his followers. He tells them that those who are faithful to him in life will find that he is in return faithful to them and those who disown him in life by their neglect and indifference and apathy will be disowned by him in turn. The disciples can be under no illusion as to the dangers they will face in their work of witnessing to the Gospel. As the prophets of old were rejected and as Christ was rejected they are told that they too will face rejection and difficulty as they proclaim who Christ really is and that sin is the only real enemy they need to fear. They are told that divine justice will prevail, that everlasting unforgettable disgrace is the lot of those who work against truth and justice and against those who proclaim it. We are told in our first reading that God delivers the souls of the needy, that evil does not prevail, that sin or death does not have the last say.
Be not afraid then. The promise of Christ is of victory those who remain faithful. Do not disown him and he will not disown you or yours. Come to know him in his true identity as the son of the Father. Come to love, to follow, to imitate and to serve him. Give witness to him in all that you say and do and are and then, with Our Lady’s help you may be found worthy of the promises of Christ.