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Friday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
At that time: So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees. “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, as I come before you today to be blessed by your presence, help me to remember that I am your precious child, and have nothing to fear.
- Hypocrisy: Jesus told his disciples that everything spoken in darkness will eventually come to light. Our whispers will be proclaimed on the housetops! The Pharisees were probably very shaken by these words of Jesus because of their obvious hypocrisy. As Christians, however, we should have nothing to fear, right? When we live authentically, our integrity ensures that our secrets will not embarrass us or offend God if they are widely shared. When we fail at charity, and we all sometimes do, our remedy is the sacrament of reconciliation. The grace of confession cleanses our souls and we are, once again, empowered to live transparently.
- Fear: All people fear death—our own and the deaths of those we love. Jesus knows that, but he encourages us, “his friends,” to fear only the one who has the power to cast us into Gehenna. After all, Jesus has taught us that the death of a holy soul is a beautiful reality. That soul fulfills its destiny and remains forever with God in heaven. Even those who stop at purgatory can rejoice that they will soon arrive at their eternal home. While we live as sojourners on this earth, however, we should fear sin for its power to rob us of heaven. “Yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one,” Jesus says of the devil. Father, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil, Amen.
- God Sees: Jesus reveals to us an intimate truth about God the Father—the Father knows the number of hairs on our heads. He notices and concerns himself with everything about us. We are worth “more than many sparrows,” which is quite an understatement considering that Jesus spilled his sacred blood to redeem each and every one of us. In our broken humanity, we are often tempted to discount our value, to call ourselves “worthless,” to give into sadness or discouragement about some distasteful aspect of ourselves. To God, our value is inestimable. When we deny this fact of our creation, we offend our loving Father.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, help me to see myself and others as you see us. Each one of us is a masterpiece of your creation. Our beauty may be temporarily hidden, or even disfigured by sin, but you value us more than we can ever value ourselves. Fill my soul with this truth, Lord, so that I run to your embrace through the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist. Keep me clean and pure so that I may one day spend my life with you in heaven.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a thorough examination of conscience to prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the earliest opportunity.
For Further Reflection: Bishop Barron on Beauty that draws atheists to God
Written by Maribeth Harper.