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Gospel of Sunday 25 June: Matthew 10, 26-33

Matthew 10, 26-33: “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”

12th Sunday A: Matthew 10, 26-33

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Matthew 10, Precious to God

Says the Lord: “Will not two sparrows sell for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground ‘àneu toù patròs umòn’. As for you, even the hairs of your head are counted; therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows!” (Mt 10:29-31).

We often translate “àneu toù patròs umòn”” as “without your Father’s will”: but such a translation seems to impute suffering to God; instead, the literal translation is much better: “without your Father”.

Not only does God not send us our ‘falls’, our anguish, but none of us, indeed no creature, not even the sparrow, is in pain ‘without our Father’, without God also being there to suffer and die.

We are far more precious to God than sparrows. He is loving Providence who follows us at all times, and who even takes care of our individual hairs (Mt 10:10).

Do not fear

That is why the Bible often resounds with the command “Fear not”, a command that is repeated no less than three times in today’s passage (vv. 26.28.31).

Someone has even counted the recurrence of this phrase, and discovered with amazement that it returns 365 times in the Bible, as many times as there are days in the year.

It is as if God wanted to remind us that he is by our side every day, and that even if we encounter obstacles, difficulties, trials, and sufferings on a daily basis, we are not alone, but that God is with us with his strength that makes up for our weaknesses, with his peace that conquers our anxieties, with his joy that annihilates our pain.

Monsignor Tonino Bello wrote: “Jesus comes and heartens us by saying: ‘What are you saying, what are you doing, courage don’t be afraid, look, lift up your gaze, winter has passed, the rain has gone away; the fig trees are already bearing their first fruits and the buds of the trees are sprouting on the bark.

Come out of your hiding places, my dove,” says the Lord. Exactly: “Fear not”; it is the Easter cry without which we would be frozen by tons of ice; by an incredible sphere of ice.

“Fear not, that you fear, that you fear, that you are sick with cancer, that you are ankylosed, that you can no longer cope, that you do not have the memory of before, the intelligence of before, the quickness of before.

But there are other things that you didn’t have before, that the Lord now gives you; a great hope, a great strength of hope in others that is even, dare I say it, more voluptuous… “Rise not be afraid” this is life!”.

Jesus is the Absolute

Jesus takes up a harsh prediction that the prophets had made about the Messiah (Mic 7:6; Hag 2:22; Ml 3:24). Following the Lord can become a source of very painful division; Matthew even speaks of a “sword”: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34).

“The sword that Jesus came to carry is not for killing, and Christ will always prevent his disciples from any act of violence (“Put up your sword in its place, for all who take up the sword shall die by the sword”: Mt 26:52).

The image of the sword was used in the Jewish world to indicate the efficacy of the Word of God (“Take the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God”: Eph 6:17; Wis 18:15; Is 49:2; Rev 1:16; 2:12).

The sword of Jesus is the sword of the word of God, “which is living, effective, and sharper than any two-edged sword; it penetrates to the dividing point of life and spirit, to the joints and marrow, and can discern the feelings and thoughts of the heart” (Heb 4:12).

The good news of Jesus will divide those who accept it from those who reject it, which is why Jesus goes on to say: “For I have come to divide a man from his father, and a daughter from her mother, and a daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law” (Mt 10:35; Mi 7:7).

That the sword of which Jesus speaks is the word that divides is confirmed by Luke’s gospel, which in the parallel passage omits the word sword and speaks of division: “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I say to you, but division’ (Lk 12:51)” (A. Maggi).

Because of Jesus “brother shall put brother to death, and father to son, and children shall rise up against parents and put them to death” (Mt 10:21).

“Jesus speaks from his own personal experience. He had no support from his family, but only difficulties: ‘Man’s enemies: those of his house’ (Mt 10:36).

The hostility of his countrymen, who were “scandalised by him”, made Jesus pronounce the bitter remark that “No prophet is despised except in his own country and in his own house” (Mt 13:57), and if Matthew censures both the accusation of insanity reported in Mark’s gospel (“his own came to seize him because they said, ‘He is out of his mind'”: Mk 3:21), and John’s bitter observation that “not even his brothers believed in him” (Jn 7:5), he does not hide the difficulty of the relationship between Jesus and his family: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” (Mt 12:49)” (A. Maggi).

But following Jesus is everything. His love is a jealous, all-encompassing love. Jesus is the Absolute that bursts into human lives: in front of him everything fades, is relativised, loses importance.

Jesus, says Pope Francis, “divides even the closest bonds because he sets the criterion: to live for oneself, or to live for God and for others; to be served, or to serve; to obey one’s self or to obey God”.

Truly then “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:25): this is the most quoted of the Lord’s sayings, found in the Gospels no less than six times (Mt 10:39; 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24; 17:33; Jn 12:25).

Only in the total gift of life to the Lord will we find happiness, fulfilment, fullness. Those who follow Jesus radically will enjoy that “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, which will keep your hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

Good Mercy to all!

Anyone wishing to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

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