June 19, 2005
24 A student is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master. 25 A student should be glad to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If the head of the family has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of the family! So, do not be afraid of them.
26 There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops.
•28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather be afraid of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 For only a few cents you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. 30 As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. 31 So do not be afraid: you are worth much more than many sparrows.
•32 Whoever acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 Whoever rejects me before others I will reject before my Father in heaven.
• 34 Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father and daughter against her mother; a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 Each one will have as enemies those of one’s own family.
37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me. 39 One who wants to benefit from his life will lose it; one who loses his life for my sake will find it.
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• 28. We are cowards and Jesus is aware of this. He has already said, “Do not fear,” when he invited us not to look for security in money. Now, dealing with the fear of repression, he adds, “If you cannot free yourselves from cowardice, consider where the greater threat comes from, from God or people?”
This is the only time Jesus refers to “fear of God.” When the Old Testament mentioned fear of God, it generally meant giving due respect to God. Respect is far from fear. Respect is an attitude proper to a free person. God does not threaten to throw us into hell; rather he reminds us that to lose him is to lose ourselves also, and this is hell.
• 32. Whoever acknowledges me. After stressing the sovereign power of his Father, Jesus puts himself on the same level: He will decide our eternal fate. Jesus refers not only to recognizing him in the ultimate sense, that is, by not denying our Christian faith before others; his words also convey a day-by-day demand. We must not be ashamed to act or talk as people of faith, to go public about our Christian convictions when necessary.
• 34. Do not think that I have come to establish peace. The peace of the believer comes from the certainty of being loved by God: the angels of Bethlehem said so: Luke 2:14.
Jesus gives no peace to the world, because the rest of the world is made up of confusion, half-truths, people who live midway between greed and fear of risking. The peace of the world, whether in a family or in society, veils unjust conditions imposed by the strongest, or a shared mediocrity. The Gospel awakens everywhere a critical spirit; so that the presence of only one Christian living by the truth is enough to worry many persons: John 3:20; 15:18.
The Gospel moves us to make decisions with greater freedom, disregarding the criticism of those close to us whenever we are convinced that they cannot understand the Gospel values which motivate us. Take, for example, a pregnant girl resisting her parents’ advice to obtain an abortion. Christians have been persecuted in many countries for teaching that divine law is above parental authority, which was considered the supreme authority. Thus it happened with the ancient Romans and, more recently, in Korea and China.
Moreover, the devil stirs up persecutions against every person who becomes converted, in order to scare her and make her turn away.
He is not worthy… (v. 37). Jesus addresses this to others besides missionaries or persons with an exceptional mission. Each one must break away from forms of dependency within the family, which do not nurture the human and spiritual growth of the members. One who loves Christ finds a thousand and one opportunities to free himself from activities, entertainments and worries about his own family, which keep both him and the family at a mediocre level.
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1. Here is the risk: take what you know and apply it. This is never easy as we are in a context that actively works against such wisdom. What can get us beyond simply recognizing this need to apply what is known and actually doing it?
2. Here is the assurance: you can take what you know and apply it because every bit of you is loved and cared for. No matter what the consequence of your applying the wisdom entrusted to you, you are loved and cared for.
3. Here is the result: you will bear the consequence of other's rejection and yet act for their benefit as well as that of all. You will join Jesus in not coming to bring certainty ("peace"), but clarity ("sword"). This is not easy work. It is risky. Yet, assurance that we are loved and cared for will sustain us in this prophetic and progressive work.
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