Sunday (June 21): “Fear not – you are of more value than many sparrows”
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:26-33
26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Meditation: What does fear have to do with the kingdom of God? Fear is a powerful force. It can lead us to panic and flight or it can spur us to faith and action. The fear of God is the antidote to the fear of losing one’s life. I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. O fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34:4,9,11) Godly fear, reverence, and respect for God’s ways produce wisdom and right judgment What is godly fear? It is reverence for the One who made us in love and who sustains us in mercy and kindness. The greatest injury or loss which we can experience is not physical but spiritual – the loss of one’s heart, mind, and soul to the power of hell. A healthy fear of God leads to spiritual maturity, wisdom and right judgment and it frees us from the tyranny of cowardly fear and sinful pride that refuses to do what is right, good, and just – especially in the face of opposition and evil. Do you trust in the power of God’s love and truth that can conquer every fear and form of evil and wrongdoing? The Lord Jesus willingly embraced the cross for our sake to atone for our sins and to free us from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Do you believe in the power of his cross and victory over death, despair, and sin?
Proclaim boldly what no earthly power can destroy – the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ When Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God he met opposition and hostility from those who refused to believe in him. He tells his disciples that they must expect the same treatment if they are to live and to proclaim the reign of God. There is both a warning and a privilege in his statement. Just as Jesus had to carry his cross, so the disciples must carry their cross and not try to evade it. To suffer for the faith is to share in the work of Christ. As one hymn states: Lift high the Cross of Christ! Tread where his feet have trod. The Holy Spirit gives us power and grace to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. Do you trust in God s grace to carry your cross for Jesus’ sake?
“Lord Jesus, it is my joy and privilege to be your disciple. Give me strength and courage to bear any hardship and suffering which may come my way in your service. May I witness to others the new life, joy and victory you have won for us through your cross and resurrection.”
Psalm 69:7-10, 13, 16-17, 32-34
7 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face. 8 I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother s sons. 9 For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. 10 When I humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. 13 But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your mercy answer me. With your faithful help 16 Answer me, O LORD, for your merciful love is good; according to your abundant compassion, turn to me. 17 Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress, make haste to answer me. 32 Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. 33 For the LORD hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds. 34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves therein.
A Daily Quote for the early church fathers: Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows, by John Chrysostom, 344-407 A.D.
“What do you see in creation of less value than a tiny sparrow? But even the sparrow will not fall without God’s knowledge. Jesus does not mean that the sparrow falls by God s direct will because it is unworthy but that nothing that occurs is hidden from God. If then God is not ignorant of anything that happens in creation, and if God loves us more truly than the best human father, and if God loves us so as to have numbered our very hairs, then we need not be afraid. Jesus said this not to indicate that God literally has a number placed on the very hairs of our head but rather to show that God has perfect knowledge of everything about us and providentially cares for everything about us. Therefore, if God both knows all things that happen to us and is able to save us and willing to do so, then whatever we may be suffering, we need not think that God has forsaken us in our suffering. For it is not God’s will to keep us wholly separated from that which elicits dread but rather to persuade us not to make an idol out of whatever we dread. It is this, more than anything else, that constitutes deliverance from dread. ‘Therefore, don t be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows.’ Don t you see that God views your fear with more concern than the lives of many sparrows? He already knows the secrets of your heart. Hence Jesus adds, ‘Do not fear.’ For even if that which you dread prevails, it prevails only over your body; this is the limited part of yourself, which nature will surely take in due time and bring to an end.” (excerpt from The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 34, 2-3)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.