17 October 2008 Thursday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 12, 1-7 Following Christ Fearlessly
Jesus points publicly the hypocrisy of the Pharisees: they thought that their outward image of respectability will keep hidden their blemishes from being discovered. But not so. All personal secrets will be revealed --- if not during our lifetime, but on Judgment Day. So, Jesus tells all of His disciples not to be afraid to openly live their faith. People can only kill the body. We should fear God who has power over our future and our destiny. But this fear is not like a slave towards a cruel master. It is a relationship of a child to his doting Father. It is not an enslaving fear but an enabling and empowering love. Because, we are worth more than ‘many sparrows’. In the Acts of the Apostles, the fearlessness in discipleship is a gift of the Spirit.
There are many times in our lives when we have to be fearless in our faith. Religion and spirituality become a challenge to a world that is growing more and more secular and commercial. Though our world may not frown upon our belief system, faith nowadays is regarded as inconsequential. Many, though baptized, take faith for granted. It does not mean we have to wear our faith on our sleeves. It is more like this: when we do not agree with the value system in our families or workplace or culture, we express our disagreement; we just don’t conform when it is against our conscience. There are more times when we would rather go with the flow out of our need for belongingness and abandon whatever virtue we hold dear if it threatens our acceptance or our work. Lawyers, for example, who have been assigned to work for the death penalty in the Philippines expressed that they couldn’t, in conscience, support it and have asked to be removed from the job. Remember February 9, 1986? Computer workers at the Commission on Elections notice discrepancies during the history of the fall of President Marcos. They walked out of the computer center in protest of the election fraud.
But fearlessness have to be defined and clarified. It does not mean arrogance, self-righteousness, independence or to be autocrats in leadership. Because we are afraid to lose, we will do anything, try anything, bribe anyone, so that we don’t lose. We see this especially during elections in the Philippines. Candidates will try all sorts of ways, especially crooked and corrupt, to win the elections. This is not the fearlessness we’re talking about. Jesus tells us in the Gospel, that our fearlessness finds its very source in the very love of God, in our deep relationship with God, and in the assuring trust that God will not abandon us in what noble thing we do.
Practically, to be fearless means that we must have faith in ourselves and in God. It is a combination of a confidence in our power to change the world and at that same time, the humility in the knowledge that all these power comes from God. It is a partnership between believing that we can determine and work out our future and trust in whatever its result. And thus, with God’s assuring love --- whatever the outcome, success or failure ---- we will be less pessimistic about the world. We will be less cynical and critical. When we are so negative about the world, we contribute to its misery.
Fearlessness enables us to take risks, not to be afraid to make changes in our lives, not be intimidated to move on from heartbreak, to be trusting again in a relationship, and to feel safe and secure to take another chance.