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Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Gen 49:29-33, 50:15-25 & Mt. 10:24-33

The magnificent story of Joseph has a happy ending. He saves his family from starvation and his father, who presumed he was dead, had the happiness of seeing his son again. The subject of today's first reading is the one potentially difficult issue that remains. After the death of their father Joseph's brothers feared that he would take revenge because they had sold him into slavery. How wrong they were! He never entertained that vengeful thought, but they were fearful only because they did not understand their brother: they were judging him by their standards, thinking that if they were in his position they would want revenge.

Sometimes we mistakenly judge God by our human standards. We find it very difficult to forgive serious offences committed against us and think God is like that. But He is not. It is true that Jesus in today's Gospel tells us to fear God, not men, because only He can destroy both body and soul in Hell. This is because we are sinners and if we do not repent of our sins and try to live better lives then we are asking to be punished. But Jesus cannot let matters rest there, assuring us that God does not want to harm us. "Every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid." This is Jesus' emphatic way of saying that each of us is precious to God and He only wants the best for us.

If Jesus was accused of being in league with the Devil, then His disciples can be sure they will have similarly unflattering things said against them. Our response should be a renewed desire to proclaim the Gospel by the way we live our everyday lives. Many people find this difficult because they fear people's reactions. But Jesus assures us that we are precious in God's sight. Whatever we may have to suffer, in this life, all will be well if we remain faithful to Jesus and His teachings, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before My heavenly Father.”

In the Gospel Jesus assures us that God is aware of everything that happens, even the sparrows that fall to the ground, and we are more valuable than them. In fact, we are so valuable that God sent His only Son to die for us and, because Christ places such value on us, we need never fear personal threats nor difficult trials. This does not mean that God will take away all our troubles; Christ's followers will always have to face hardships. The real test of our trusting in God is how well we hold up under the wear, tear and abuse of everyday life. Personal trials cannot shake God’s love and should not dislodge His Spirit from us. For our part two things are required: we must be aware of God’s care and love for us, emptying ourselves of all dependence on our resources and putting our trust in God. Once we make that our strategy in life we have nothing to fear. God entrusted the Good News to Jesus, and Jesus commissions us to proclaim the same wonderful news of Him to the world.

Lord Jesus, may we learn to rely not on our own powers and abilities but on the Spirit of God working within us, helping us to grow in confidence. Then what an honour it will be when He acknowledges us in the presence of His Father.

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