Reflection for Sunday – June 25, 2023

Readings: Jeremiah 20: 10-13; Romans 5: 12-15; Matthew 10: 26-33 
Preacher: Deni Mack

Jesus said to the twelve and to us: Fear no one.  Jesus’ advice to his disciples is not what we say to our kids going off to college or to our staffs or colleagues or task forces or friends. 

 To our college bound children, we might say, “make good choices” or “get your work done” or “be on time and clean.” We might add, “make appointments with your professors or see them during hours they list.”  We might advise that they buy used books or get a job at the college pool or library or bookstore or food service or in communications.  We tell them to “be safe.” We probably have not said to anyone, not even ourselves, “Fear no one.”   Have we?  Or maybe if someone has to speak in public we try to lessen their fear.  If you’re scared about your new assignment we try to lessen your fear.  

Well, in this short Gospel story Jesus not only tells us to “Fear no one” but twice he says, “Be not afraid!” The second time he wants us to not be afraid of those who kill the body because they cannot kill the soul.  

My cousin’s daughter, when recovering from needed surgery, was prescribed a lot of OxyContin before it was found to be addictive; she took it as prescribed and became addicted. In and out of detox and jobs, jailed and raped and lost and found and lost everything, her identification, her wallet, her car, her keys, everything. She found another job and lost it, and some would say her addiction was killing her soul.  Working seven days a week at an accounting firm and restaurant, she was battling demons. We prayed for her. But we could not agree that she should fear no one when her last sobriety coach turned out to be a fentanyl dealer.  Yes, we have realistic fear.   Does that mean we are inattentive to today’s word from our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ? 

No!  My cousin, her husband, their daughter Colleen and I are leaning on Jesus all the time.  We trust he has Colleen’s back especially when she, like Jeremiah, knows “terror on every side.” The Lord is with Colleen, as with Jeremiah: “Like a mighty champion,” he will overpower her persecutors.  God “has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.” 

Let us hope.  Let us pray for all the Colleens of this world, for every person who is addicted.  

Today’s psalm calls us to prayer: “Lord, in your great love answer us…In your great kindness, answer us with your constant help…See the lowly ones…For the Lord hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”  Many might spurn Colleen and people like her but Jesus spurns no one.  Jesus lives in the employers who believe in Colleen, in her parents who believe in Colleen, in a newspaper food writer who wrote “Colleen Fitzsimmons makes the best Eggs Benedict in this city!” 

The whole church prays with the letter to the Romans, today: “If by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.”  We’re counting on God’s grace.  And not only for people who are addicted.  We are are counting on God’s grace for the people of Ukraine, on the oligarchs funding this aggression, on Putin and patriarch Kirill who are aligned in making war on Ukraine.  May God’s grace open eyes and hearts to peacemaking and reparations.    

Jesus says, “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light, what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”  People have told me, “Jesus says nothing to me; I try to listen.” They’re humbly doing the will of God with grace as they care for neighbors and loved ones.  Their gracious service shines God’s light in the darkness.

Every word we say and action we make communicates something of our beliefs even when we are not intending that. Can we try to be a little more hopeful since Jesus is always trying to remind us to be hopeful and trust in him?  Act in hope and hope comes.   Act in faith and faith comes.  

Can we act with a little more courage since Jesus is dying to love us into being courageous?  Our fearless words reflect our faith.

Denise Mack