"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Mt 10: 28). In the first reading for this Sunday's mass, prophet Jeremiah faces opposition and hostility for preaching a God-authored message. He did not let the fear of his adversaries' attack cripple him but acknowledged that the Lord, "like a mighty champion," was with him and entrusted his cause to him (Jer. 20: 10-13). Do not be afraid echoes through the words and deeds of several saints we revere today. It is essential, therefore, to take God on his assuring words of protection, even when our existential condition is under threat and we appear to be drowning in the ocean of fear, "Fear no one," God says.
But what is it we are afraid of? What is the source of our fears? What realities give us nightmares? What thoughts deprive us of sleep at night? Whose voices and images evoke fear in us? As followers of Christ and His way, whether you are married, single or a priest, young or elderly, whatever your state, you probably have Frankenstein creatures chasing you in either direct or subtle forms. What are you going to do about your fears? Simple. It is easier said than done, but we must trust Jesus' command. Do not be afraid; choose not to submit to fear. Yes, as simple as that. Why so? Because Jesus says so. But can you take Jesus seriously? You should. We should because Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He guides and nourishes us. He gives us the grace to keep us fearless and bold to fight and overcome our fears. We should not be ruled by fear because we are worth much before God; we are His sons and daughters. "So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows," Jesus reminds us. There is nothing to fear because the one in us is greater than he in the world, so we should not be overcome with fear.
We should continue to live according to God's will even if we face opposition. Like Jeremiah, we should not be intimidated by forces raised against us because of our stand for Jesus and his Truth. Every follower of the Way should expect resistance and rejection, but we must not buckle to the weight of the intimidating task. We have nothing to fear because God the Mighty Hero is beside us. He is with us always in the Holy Eucharist. He is always present in the Blessed Sacrament in all tabernacles of the world.
In his first homily as pope, given at St. Peter's Square on October 1978, John Paul II made Jesus' most repeated command in the Bible his own and stamped it forever on our mind when he said: "Do not be afraid to welcome Christ and to accept his power." We encounter the power and grace of God in the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. We are sanctified when we receive him in faith and a state of grace. The sanctifying grace we received in baptism is renewed in frequent and worthy reception of his body and blood in Holy Communion. We draw strength to conquer our fears in an intimate encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. Go to Jesus in the Eucharist.
Thank you for your warm reception of the mission appeal preacher for this Sunday, Fr. Paul Tung Nguyen. God will reward your generous giving. We participate in the global and catholic mission of spreading the Good News of Christ's Kingdom when we give generously to the cause of the mission in Vietnam.
We have a new bishop! Praise be God! Bishop Timothy Christian Senior was installed on Wednesday, June 21, as the Twelfth Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg. May God bless his ministry and time with us. We are grateful to God for giving us Bishop Emeritus Ronald W. Gainer, who guided and nurtured the diocese through the pandemic and bankruptcy in the last nine years. We are thankful for Bishop Gainer's stewardship and wish him a happy retirement and all the best in the years ahead.
Also, this past week, I marked the fourth anniversary of my appointment as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church. How time flies! It has been a life-changing experience in my twenty-three years of priesthood. You have done more for me, my beloved brothers and sisters, than I have done for you. I invite you to continue to walk patiently with me as I try to proclaim Jesus and his Kingdom among you. Together, we are destined for heaven. Thank you for your love for me despite my many flaws. May I continue to find Joy in serving you. Let's not be afraid as we take bold steps at St. Peter's.
In the Heart of Jesus,
Fr. Bernard, OP