In today’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus reminds his disciples that they are always held in God’s loving protection and need fear no one. “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.”
This is not a promise that bad things will never happen to us. We may face serious illness or disease, violence at the hands of another, unemployment and financial hardship, betrayal by a friend, the death of someone we love dearly. We may, indeed, doubtless will, face any number of adversities in our lifetimes.
The promise is not that bad things don’t happen. Rather the promise is that we face nothing alone; God is with us in all. And the promise is that our earthly sufferings “cannot kill the soul,” cannot deprive us of our relationship with God.
The challenge for us is keeping that promise close to us. Fear will rise on occasion and, unchecked, can seem to pull us into a black hole. And so we need to hear these words over and over again so that when the fear rises we can hear Jesus speaking the words in our hearts. And we need to hear the words over and over again so that when fear rises in another, we can help them to hear Jesus’ words in their heart.