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Do Not Be Afraid ; Be Courageous!

    Last summer I picked up a job as a cashier in a store that is not located in the best area of the city. It is a good job to help me get through university, however. Now the store does not really have a dress code, just the normal, look presentable and nothing revealing. As such I do not take off my saint bracelet that I wear everyday around my wrist. During the winter or summer I am always wearing a sweater whenever I work, since my store is normally a little cool. However, at times when the temperature is fine, I sometimes find myself at an odds with my sleeves. Do I lift them up? Do I keep them down? Do I take off my sweater? Now the reason I have such a stupid debate with myself is because of my saint bracelet. Do I have it showing? Do I not? Will someone say something rude to me? Am I ready to take the criticism? Since this store is often visited by large bikers, gang members, and 'tough guys' I find myself sometimes at odds with my bracelet.  But then the line at the end of todays Gospel comes to mind, " But whoever denies me before humans I also will deny before my Father in Heaven." 

Maybe you have faced a similar struggle or situation yourself.

     I think collectively Catholics have a hard time sharing their faith to the world. It is a fact that the Catholic church is not liked by the relativist society we live in. The ideologies of  individualism  and "you do you" has come to define our society and the way that people at large, especially in the western world, think. Especially when someone breaks this way of thinking, society freaks out and shames those doctrines and ideas that do not fit to its own 'free' way of life.   This way of thinking and influence on the world has made Catholics afraid and dwindled the desire to share the Gospel either in small ways or in larger profound ways.

    Todays Gospel from Matthew 10: 26-33 is taken from the later part of the 'Missionary discourse' of Jesus. The discourse is Jesus effectively teaching his disciples what they are to do, the significant persecution they will face in the towns, possibly even face death, how they will split families apart, and will not be liked by many. The part of the discourse today, is Jesus telling them, do not be afraid of those who will persecute them, or afraid of those who can kill you because you are working for God. But rather be afraid and aware of the one that can "kill the soul and body." However he calms the disciples by saying that in the sight of God, you are valuable, you are important that he made and counted each hair on your head. So if he has done that, why would he abandon you?

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    Essentially today, Jesus is telling us, that we should not be afraid of any persecution or hatred we face, because firstly we will always have God with us, and if we acknowledge the king, then we will be acknowledged before him. There is no persecution for proclaiming the Gospel that can separate us from God. Jesus is telling us to be bold in our mission. Be committed and be proud of what we are representing through our words and deeds.

    The goal for us, as has been for every disciple since the time of Jesus, is to proclaim the good news. "What you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops"  The disciples whom Jesus taught were commissioned to bring what is whispered now, into the world. It is our mission too, that Jesus speaks, to not be afraid, to proclaim from the housetops the joy, love and goodness of the Gospel.

    This proclamation of the Gospel, is not done alone, but firstly with God. That through anything we say or do is firstly done because God enabled us to do so. He first called us to be the pro-claimers of the goodness, we did not first chose him. His work within us is primal and necessary.

    In the missionary discourse Jesus prepared his disciples for persecution, and this preparation is still relevant today.  Jesus calls us to focus on where our attention is. Is our  attention on the pleasing of crowds so that we do not get persecuted? or is it in the message and staying committed to it regardless of hate, criticism or persecution we experience? Jesus calls us to the latter. He calls us not to be afraid of those who can hurt us on earth, because it is God who is the one who saves; the God who intercedes for us when we most need.

    Today we too will indeed face persecution. Maybe not on the same level as the disciples, however, many Christians in the middle east do, but we experience our own forms. We face the persecutions of society that preaches acceptance and tolerance, expect to the church. We face persecutions when the government does not respect freedom of religion laws. We face persecutions among the comments, and embarrassment we can feel for believing in God and Christ. Persecution is around us, and still alive today, however, God is there and with God we need to not worry about anything.

    The more I contemplate on the closeness of God to those persecuted  and being proud of my faith in a world that has hated Christianity since its beginnings, I am choosing to lift my sleeves up more. I chose to have my saint bracelet on show. Not as a sign of "Oh look at me" but rather, I have it visible as an interior confidence that I am not ashamed of my faith. Also, I show it as a small subtle form of evangelization to all the people I see. It not only is a personal sign of my faith alive but also a form of exposing people, who potentially do not know Christ, to see Christ.

My Saint Bracelet

    One of the first times I didn't work with my sweater and I was at the till, many people commented on my saint bracelet, saying that they liked it and liked seeing a teenager be proud of their faith.

When we are open and willing to share about our faith, great miracles will happen. Sharing of the faith is attractive to a world without God. The faith, truth and reality of the Catholic church is attractive to a world that is need of objectivity. Sharing of the faith is necessary and is the fundamental mission of the church since the time of Jesus.

Christ is calling us today to be bold in our faith. He is calling us to be courageous in the face of persecution and hate, to turn to him and to not be afraid of acknowledging him. God is calling us to be proud of our faith, even when humans disagree. For God is happy with his children who work to bring the Gospel to those who do not know him.

Are you afraid of the faith?

How can you be more courageous in sharing the faith?

"Everyone therefore, who acknowledges me before humans I also will acknowledge before my Father in Heaven"
 Matthew 10:32

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