Sunday, June 25, 2017

Looking Ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Tolerance only for those who agree with you is no tolerance at all.” — Ray Davis.

Through a series of opposites, the Gospel reveals the kingdom of Jesus and the world into which he sends his disciples.

He counters the fear and limitations of that world with the hope, vision and grace of his kingdom: concealed, revealed; secret, known; darkness, light; whispered, proclaimed; kill body, cannot kill soul; small coin, worth more.

The difference between each of these pair of words might make anyone afraid if it were not for the fact that someone great is on our side.

Jesus makes it quite clear that we are not alone and that there is a sustaining, protective and lifegiving love upon which we can depend.

Jesus speaks directly and forcefully as to what we can expect: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid. Even the hairs of your head are counted. I will acknowledge [you] before my Father. Do not be afraid.”

There are a few spiritual and emotional realities that can completely paralyze a person. Among the strongest of these is fear. When one becomes afraid of anyone or anything, very often they cannot summon the courage to accomplish what they want or need to do.

In the face of fear, they become helpless and hopeless.

Jesus understood this well; he counseled to trust and to know deep within our spirit the faithful love of God our Father. He repeated so many times within his Gospel message the same words: “fear not.”

These words of Jesus take on so much more power when one knows the end of the story: The disciples were to face martyrdom because they proclaimed the kingdom of God “from the rooftops.”

The cost of discipleship is great; the rewards are even greater. Fear is one of the only things that can prevent one from trusting fully in the ultimate saving power of God.

It is, therefore, trust in God’s love and care for us that will ultimately encourage us to stand up even in the face of persecution.

This is at the heart of what Jesus proclaimed so explicitly in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those persecuted for holiness’ sake; the reign of God is theirs. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.”

We take it to heart and find encouragement and hope in Jesus’ command: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid!”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

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