Year B Proper 23 WEDNESDAY, 13 October 2021
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“When To Be Afraid”
Collect: Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Jesus said: “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 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. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”
Yesterday I was meeting with someone and they brought up that so much of our society is seething with fear. I had to agree. We are being conditioned by so many things to fear our neighbor, our brothers and sisters. God help us. God forgive us.
Jesus speaks to what we should do, and of what we should REALLY be afraid. When I was a teacher, I tended to be strict. I was strict, not to be mean. Far from it. I was strict because the kids in my charge were not able to process what was appropriate, or helpful, or dangerous. We say no to toddlers so that they do not burn their hands on the stove. They do not have the experience to know that you avoid a hot stove. They cannot imagine or fathom it. They do not know what to be afraid of.
At Romeos, one person mentioned how one of our recently baptized came out after their baptism, and were set free in the library. They made a beeline for the fire alarm on the wall. It was bright. It was red. It was SO ATTRACTIVE! What made it noticeable to adults made it so attractive to a toddler. They did not know what would happen, and thankfully the adults stepped in to say, “NO!”
When we are younger and inexperienced, life has not yet prepared us for what we need to truly be concerned about. When I was a teacher, my students were the same as those toddlers. I knew what was safe and what was not, what skills they needed to succeed and what could be ignored. I had to be the frontal lobe for them, the decision making part of the brain because that is the last part of the brain, particularly in males, that develops. The male brain is not fully developed in most boys till they are 24 years old. And if we cannot be afraid of what we should be, then we need to be afraid of other things that protect us. That is why I was strict. I loved my charges enough to for that purpose; if they could not be afraid of what they should be, they could be afraid of me.
Jesus put it this way in our reading this morning: “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.” We are so concerned about taking care of this mortal coil that we may be ignoring our immortal one.
Thankfully Christ came to enlighten and forewarn us, to teach us another way. And the Church came so that we could do the same for our current generations. And because of that, Jesus can honestly say: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
God loves us. God hopes the best for us. God does not want us to be afraid, and has prepared for us the way of life. Thanks be to God! Amen