In today’s readings, we are offered some excellent pointers in coping with our fears, not through logic or rationality, but through faith. Our ancestors in the faith have alluded to the universal human experience of fear both in the Old and the New Testament. Indeed the words fear and afraid appear in one form or another over 700 times in scriptural texts. In almost every instance, the coping mechanism recommended is the same - faith - faith that trusts in and hopes in God’s power to save, to deliver and to protect.
As illustrated in today’s first reading (Jer. 20:7,10-13), Jeremiah knew what it was to be afraid. Indeed his prophetic career was riddled with countless fearsome experiences. When called by God, he feared he was too young, he feared that he would not know what to say or how to speak to his contemporaries in God’s name. He feared facing others with the truth of their sinfulness. He feared to speak God’s word. He feared not to speak it and when he did speak it, he feared the consequences.
Paul, in today’s second reading (Rom. 5:12-15), cites the reason why believers need no longer fear sin and death, viz., because of the gracious gift of Jesus Christ in whose dying and rising all our fears can be sublimated through faith.
With today’s gospel (Mt. 10:26-33) our attention turns once again to the often fearsome challenges of being ministers of the word. Like Jeremiah, Jesus’ disciples were charged with speaking God’s word of truth to their contemporaries and, like Jeremiah, they often bore the brunt of their contemporaries disdain. “Shooting the messenger” who bears an unpleasant or unwanted message is unfortunately the reaction of many when confronted with the challenge of the good news. Fully aware of the challenges they would face and the fears that those challenges would endanger, Jesus sent his disciples forth, telling them not to fear. Why? Because they are loved by God who sees all and cherishes the faithful.
That same assurance is extended to each of us who also believe, who are also called by God, gifted with grace and sent forth with a message to “proclaim from the housetops” (Mt. 10:27). The same assurance will see us through when we dare to jump headlong into the deep waters of discipleship.
END OF SCHOOL YEAR PRAYER
O God of all beginnings and endings,
We praise and thank you for the gift of this school year. It has been a time filled with grace and blessings,
With challenges and opportunities, joys and sorrows.
The days have passed quickly, O Lord.
The weeks, the months, the seasons, the holidays and holy days,
The exams, vacations, breaks, and assemblies, All have come forth from your hand.
While we trust that your purposes have always been at work each day,
Sometimes it has seemed difficult to understand and appreciate
Just what you have been up to in our school.
Give us the rest and refreshment we need this summer.
Let our efforts of this past year bear fruit.
Bring all of our plans to a joyful conclusion,
And bless us, according to your will,
With the fulfillment of our summer hopes and dreams.
Watch over us in the weeks of rest ahead,
And guide each day as you have done this past year.
Help us return to school with a new spirit and a new energy.
May we continue to grow
In age, wisdom, knowledge and grace
All the days of our lives.