Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nineteenth Sunday, Year C "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock": the courage of the Church and the gift of the Kingdom in Jesus Christ

Everyone experiences the fear of suffering.

What is the fear of death or disease, the fear of the loss of security financial or physical, of the unknown future but a fear of suffering? We call these physical evils because they diminish or destroy the body, mind or soul. But there are also spiritual evils, such as sin, and these are far more to be feared, as our Lord teaches us, because they can "cast both body and soul in Gehenna". To fear these is "salutary" that is, a help to our salvation. These kinds of fear are not what the Lord is talking about in today's Gospel reading: "fear of the Lord" is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

And why do we fear suffering and evil? Because we were made by God, for Himself, who is love and life and light without beginning or end, and with whom there is never fear or suffering or death, but only abundant, infinite holiness and joy. And when we lack what God intended for us to have, then we are unhappy. Fear prevents the life of joyful and hopeful faith and the freedom to love. It was in order to restore these things to the human race that Jesus Christ came to suffer, die and rise again.

Fear is a darkness at the margins of our lives, something we do many things, some unconsciously, to avoid. Some turn to alcohol, drugs, the misuse of their bodies and minds, all in a vain attempt to escape from the suffering which is brought on by fear of people, places or things in our world.

Our Lord opens this subject of fear for our discussion in today's Gospel: "Do not be afraid, little flock". But then he goes further and proposes a remedy: " ... your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom".

Now, what is the Kingdom? And how does this gift of the Kingdom given by the Father promise to eradicate fear from our lives?

"The kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on earth by Christ. 'This kingdom shone out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ' (LG 5). The Church is the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter." (CCC 567)

For the full text of the homily suggestion for the Nineteenth Sunday of the Year, please visit A Priest Life.

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