14 July
Mt 10:24-33

A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!  So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Three times in this passage, Jesus tells them not to be afraid.  “Fear,” someone said, “is the love that's due to gods and princes.”  But if our love of God is really only a form a fear, then we would love the devil more than God if we came to fear him more.

It is true that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is called “fear of the Lord.”  But this ‘fear of the Lord’ has nothing to do with fear in the ordinary sense of the word.  Theologians distinguished between ‘filial fear’ and ‘servile fear’.  Fear of the Lord is the former, a feeling of awe and reverence before the ultimate mystery.  Jesus kept saying, “Don't be afraid!” (Mt 14:28; 17:7; 28: 5,10; Lk 5:10; etc.).  And St John wrote, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18).  God asks for our love, not our fear.  It is said that those who love to be feared, fear to be loved.  How could God love to be feared, or fear to be loved?  “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8, 16).

“Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.”   The fruit is the plain truth about the tree, and everyone can not only see it but test it and taste it for themselves.  Likewise, human action.  Everything becomes visible sooner or later.  The word ‘depth’ can hold us too much in thrall.  When we talk too much about depth we give ourselves the impression that it is a whole inner separate world, sufficient unto itself.  Wittgenstein, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, said once, “The depth is on the surface!”  He, of all people, could not be accused of superficiality.  There is a very radical truth here: the depth and the surface are one, the inside and the outside are one.  There is an early Christian writing (end of the 1st century) attributed to St Clement of Rome.  Quoting the apocryphal Gospel of the Egyptians, 'Clement' writes:  "When the Lord himself was asked by someone when his kingdom would come, he said: 'When the two shall be one, and the outside as the inside....'  By ‘the outside as the inside’ he means this: that the inside is the soul, and the outside is the body." 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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