The Pastor’s Thoughts — June 25, 2023, Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 29, 2023 | By Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body.”

“Jesus said to the Twelve: ‘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.’” He goes on to say that nothing happens to lowly sparrows without His heavenly Father’s knowledge. “So, do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

We are worth more to God than anything else He has created through Christ. Jesus said, “If anyone bears witness to me before men, I will praise him in the presence of my Father.” Yet, Jesus is also saying that He will only acknowledge us before His heavenly Father, if we acknowledge Him. When we acknowledge Jesus, it means we are willing to follow Him, especially in suffering for Him as He suffered for us.

Each Apostle suffered, like Jesus, and all but one died a violent death, like Jesus. However, like Jesus, they were not afraid of those who persecuted them, who killed their bodies, because they could not kill their souls. The Apostles knew that their love for Jesus meant that they would share in His praise of them before His heavenly Father.

That is why Jesus says, “do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Remember though, Jesus also adds, “be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” That one is the devil, Satan.

Satan temps us to tell lies. Satan temps us to covet what others have and to steal from them. Satan temps us to always think of ourselves and not others. Satan temps us to turn away from Jesus and God’s love and to be miserable in our lives. Then, Satan hopes that he will succeed in making us miserable, soul and body, with him, in Gehenna, in hell, forever.

We cannot let Satan destroy our souls and bodies. Our protection against Satan is our commitment to give ourselves TOTALLY and COURAGEOUSLY to the love of Jesus. That commitment allows us to bear witness to Jesus before men. That commitment allows us to bring Jesus to others, like the Apostles, by denying ourselves, taking up our crosses and following Him in the way we live our faith in our daily lives. And, as Saint John Paul II said, when we live our faith by following Jesus, “do not be afraid.”

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