Jesus tells us in this Sunday’s Gospel that “whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven”. To confess that Jesus Christ is Lord might not seem like a difficult thing to some of us. We might say ‘I go to Mass’, ‘I say my prayers’, ‘I do good things’ and as such we may not deny our faith; we might even talk about it to others on occasion. However, do we really believe that He is our Lord?
If indeed, as Jesus says, there is nothing that is “hidden that will not be known”, can we be confident that our thoughts, our hidden secrets and habits, will proclaim Jesus when they are revealed? Ok, they may not be revealed during our earthly lifetime, but they certainly will when we come before the throne of God. If all that is done in the dark will be brought into light, then there is nowhere that any of us can ultimately hide.
But let’s not be afraid of this!
“Fear not” Jesus tells us! God, of course, doesn’t want us to be trapped in fear or sin, but rather freed in His love. This means that we are called to painfully hand over to Him all that troubles us most, all that we struggle with most and not be afraid of judgement or shame. We are challenged to do the difficult thing of rising above the fear of losing our own lives, so that they might be saved (Matthew 16:25). Many of us might be tempted to ‘put off’ giving these things to Jesus. ‘Another time’ we might say to ourselves.
But now is the time.
If we have learned anything during this pandemic and lockdown, perhaps it is how fragile our world and society are. Jesus calls us to turn to Him now in a deeper surrender. For, when we put our trust in Him, we are able to rise above the fears of this life, and of this world. Indeed, Jesus tells us not to fear “those who kill the body”. We might include viruses and sicknesses in this. He tells us to rather fear “him who can destroy both body and soul in hell”. Why does Jesus say this if He doesn’t want us to be afraid?
It is clear that hell is a real place and we must not be under any illusion that it is a myth or a medieval creation. Jesus speaks of hell to urge us not to cling to earthly cares and desires (or fears) that will destroy our soul, but to trust in Him; to trust in the Father who cares for the sparrows and even more so for us.
So let us make a greater effort this week to be more ear-nest in our prayer and worship. We can go to Mass and Confession, if we are able, and surrender ourselves to God more deeply. Or perhaps, if we are unable to go to Church for whatever reason, we can just make a simple prayer in our rooms, in our homes, calling upon Jesus to come and be with us – asking for His love and forgiveness, calling upon Him to fill us with His grace and power. And we can do this many times throughout the day, or just stop and pause for an extended time of silence, inviting the Holy Spirit.
St. Paul urges us to “pray all the time” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and so there’s no limit to how often we can lift a prayer to God. And this prayer doesn’t have to be a ‘Hail Mary’ or an ‘Our Father’ or a ‘set’ prayer. As St. Therese of Lisieux tells us, prayer is “a surge of the heart” or “a simple look turned toward heaven”. It doesn’t have to be a laborious thing, but a trusting, natural and easy thing. It is much like a trusting child just having a conversation with their loving Father or Mother. Thus, let us be confident in making our prayer.
I am leaving you at the end of this week and I am truly grateful for journeying with many of you in faith, for your love, example and welcome. I trust that you will continue to keep me in your prayers as I will continue to pray for you all. Maybe, who knows, I will see you again in the future if it is God’s will?
Graciously in Christ, Joseph