My brothers and sisters in Christ, "Do not fear those who kill the body; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." [Mt. 10:28] This is a very powerful passage of the Holy Bible. In simple English, it means, "Bear your crosses and at the end, you shall be rewarded." Those who deny their crosses, they shall be disowned by the Lord.
Today's First Reading from the Book of Jeremiah [Jer. 20:10-3] recalls an event that took place in the days of the Old Testament. In those days, the Lord God had called the great prophet Jeremiah as His spokesman to warn the people of the coming judgment that awaited Israel because of the sins of the people. The unbelievers laughed at Jeremiah. [Jer. 20:7] They plotted against him so that they could silence him. [Jer. 20:10] Frustrated with the people who lived in sin, Jeremiah decided to keep quiet, to stop talking on behalf of the Almighty Lord God. [Jer. 20:9] Following this, the Lord implanted on the heart of Jeremiah the eternal dishonour that awaits all those who rejects the Lord. Jeremiah was burning with such an intense fire within his heart that he could no longer withhold the warnings of the Lord. [Jer. 20:9] He had to speak up on behalf of the Lord.
Gathering his strength so he would not face eternal dishonour, [Jer. 20:11] Jeremiah placed his complete trust in the Lord. [Jer. 20:13] Upset that Jeremiah was speaking up again on behalf of the Lord, the wicked people tried to trick him, hoping to get his downfall so they could get their revenge.
This example of Biblical history certainly reflects the fear that King David had when he said, "For I hear the whispering of many - terror all around! - as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life." [Ps. 31:13] He too gathered his strength when he faced the persecution of his enemies. [Ps. 31:14-6]
This is the same kind of whispering that was expressed against Jesus when He spoke up about the evil of the people. "Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and one of them,... a lawyer, asked him a question to test Him." [Mt. 22:15, 23, 35]
That evil is the same kind of evil that continues to this day against those who try to persevere in their living faith in Jesus Christ as true Christians. Many try to put out the light because it exposes corruption, dishonesty, oppression, lust and many of the evils of the world that are found in the hearts of some men.
Today's Second Reading, the Letter of Paul to the Romans, [Rom. 5:12-5] reminds us that by the grace of God the Father, we received a free gift through Jesus Christ. Through the sin of disobedience of one man, Adam, all his descendants were called to suffer eternal damnation. Man had lost his inheritance to the eternal Kingdom of God that was intended for a holy people. Since Adam no longer enjoyed the Presence of God, his descendants could not inherit this blessing. But, thanks to the righteous act of one Man, Jesus Christ, His perfect sacrifice as the Lamb of God, His suffering and death on the cross, many were made righteous before God. What we lacked then because of sin, it has now become our blessed hope of the future.
The reading from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 10:26-33] advises us not to fear men. Remember the words of Jeremiah, "The Lord is with you like a dread warrior. Your persecutors will stumble and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonour will not be forgotten." [Jer. 20:11]
We must never forget that by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we were made righteous in the eyes of God through faith and the Sacraments of Baptism. Through the Sacrament of Confession, our righteousness is maintained throughout our Christian life. When we walk our faith with Jesus, in Jesus and through Jesus, in the eyes of God, we are more valuable then two sparrows. Every hair of our heads are counted. We are able to affirm with confidence, "I will not stumble for the Lord is with me." The Lord is our strength. He knows the hearts of all, those dark secrets of those who plot against us. One day, everything will be uncovered and the truth will be known to all.
Our only fear should be the fear of the Lord and the eternal dishonour that awaits those who turn away from the Lord because of their fear of men. Fear not men; fear God!
If we acknowledge Jesus before others, He will acknowledge us before the Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit will bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ - if in fact, we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. [Rom. 8:16-7] If we deny Jesus before others, He also will deny us before the Father in Heaven. The Spirit of Christ will not testify on our behalf. We will have lost our One and only Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous, [1 Jn. 2:1] He being the only one who can defend our cause before the Heavenly Father.
My brothers and sisters, today's message is that Christ died for our righteousness so we may inherit the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. Since Christ suffered because of the truth, we should not expect to be treated better than He was. With Christ, we must persevere in our living faith for the glory of the Body of Christ that embraces all the baptized who live their Christian faith.
Our true friends are Jesus and all the saints who dwell in the invisible Kingdom of God, the great prophet Jeremiah, King David and all those who humbly served in their lives for the glory of God. Today, we may be rejected by many, possibly our family, our peers or our co-workers because of our living faith. While this is so, we must remember that we will not stumble because the Lord is with us. In the end, by the grace of God, the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of the Holy Sprit, we will be victorious in our race towards eternal salvation, receiving the crown of glory and honour that awaits the resurrection of the elect.