Fear No One

Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And 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 Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
(Matthew 10:26-33)

Scripture Study

10:26–27. Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid of slander and disparagement. A day will come when everyone will come to know the whole truth about everyone else, their real intentions, the true dispositions of their souls. In the meantime, those who belong to God may be misrepresented by those who resort to lies, out of malice or passion. These are the hidden things which will be made known.

Christ also tells the apostles to speak out clearly. Jesus’ divine teaching method led him to speak to the crowds in parables so that they came to discover his true personality by easy stages.

10:28. Using this and other Gospel texts (Mt 5:22, 29; 18:9; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Lk 12:5), the Church teaches that hell exists; there those who die in mortal sin suffer eternal punishment (cf. St Pius V, Catechism, 1, 6, 3), in a manner not known to us in this life (cf. St Teresa of Avila, Life, chap. 32).

Therefore, our Lord warns his disciples against false fear. We should not fear those who can only kill the body. Only God can cast body and soul into hell. Therefore God is the only one we should fear and respect; he is our Prince and Supreme Judge—not men. The martyrs have obeyed this precept of the Lord in the fullest way, well aware that eternal life is worth much more than earthly life.

10:29–31. An as (translated here as “penny”) was a small coin of very little value. Christ uses it to illustrate how much God loves his creatures. As St Jerome says (Comm. on Matthew, 10:29–31): “If little birds, which are of such little value, still come under the providence and care of God, how is it that you, who, given the nature of your soul, are immortal, can fear that you are not looked after carefully by him whom you respect as your Father?” Jesus again teaches us about the fatherly providence of God, which he spoke about at length in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 6:19–34).

10:32–33. Here Jesus tells us that public confession of our faith in him—whatever the consequences—is an indispensable condition for eternal salvation. After the Judgment, Christ will welcome those who have given testimony of their faith and condemn those whom fear caused to be ashamed of him (cf. Mt 7:23; 25:41; Rev 21:8).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus gives us the biblical antidote for fear. What are you afraid of? What do you have to lose? Does it terrify you to think that you might lose your wealth? Your social status? The affection of others? Your health? Your power and influence? Your reputation and good name? Your life? I’ve spoken often of my favorite movie, A Man For All Seasons. What frustrated Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII about Thomas More is that they couldn’t manipulate him. And why couldn’t they do that? He wasn’t afraid. There was nothing they could threaten him with.

In time, Henry took away More’s job, status, money, reputation, friends, family, freedom—each time hoping that he would give in—until finally the King took away his life. Everyone else he could intimidate, but not More.

And Thomas More’s last words are instructive here: “I die the King’s good servant; but God’s first.” Thomas More did fear someone. He had that holy fear that the Bible speaks of often: the fear of the Lord. There was something he feared losing—and that was intimacy and friendship with God. Compared to that, everything else was straw.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.