Do not be afraid any longer, little flock

上智

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock (Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time,2019/08/11)

Fr. Peter Zhao Jianmin

“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock.” Jesus said to his disciples. It is true, as Christians, we are always a little flock. This does not only mean in number we are small in society, but especially in the way we are living.

Following Jesus Christ, we Christians are living as little ones, since “Jesus said to Peter, Put your sword into its scabbard.”(Jn 18:11) That means Christians, even facing persecution, do not use force or violence, then we seem just little ones. Those who use force or violence thinks they are very big and quite great, but in reality they are no at all big or great. It is in this sense we Christians are always little flock, especially in the eyes of those who hold a sword. Actually, because they are always frightened, they would always hold a sword. In other words, they are weak and frightened so that they need to hold a sword with them in order to show their strength. However, we Christians are not weak at all and no need to be afraid because, as St Paul the apostles said in his letter to the Ephesus, we Christians “In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”(6:16-17) What we need in any circumstances is not a sword but faith, faith in Jesus Christ, faith in the Holy Spirit, faith in the heavenly Father. As Christians we do believe and have faith in the word of God. That is “the sword of the Spirit”, which no one can or able to destroy it. In other words, we Christians are strong in spirit and have the Word of God in our heart so that we do not need to hold a sword in order to show our strength, rather, because of strong in heart and in spirit, we Christians appear always as little flock even we are bigger in number. Besides, as Saint Paul said, “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.(Heb 4:12) A strong faith in the Word of God will provide us strength in our soul, in our spirit, in our heart so that we do not need to hold a sword. The simple and easy way is to focus on the Word of God, which is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, so that we Christians will enjoy the living and effective strength from the Word of God. The more we focus on the Word of God, the more we will be strong in heart and in spirit since Jesus Christ the Word of God has told Christians, his disciples, “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”(Jn 16:33) It is indeed we Christians as little flock will have trouble in this world, but we do not need to be afraid, because Jesus Christ has conquered the world by his passion and death.

It is evident that those who always hold a sword in order to show their strength are no more than to keep their treasure or money or power or kingdom. However, we Christians have our own treasure, our own power and our own kingdom. Our treasure is rich and living in life, not in flesh. As Saint Paul said to the Romans, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”(Rom 8:13) Rich and living in life is becoming the children of God so that we might call God the Father. If one does not know his or her bodily father, he or she will not know the origin of his or her life. In this case he or she would not be happy or rich in his or her heart. When we become the children of God, when we call God the Father or like Jesus called, Abba Father, then we will be rich and happy and have peace in our heart. There is no doubt that when we are rich and happy and have peace in our heart, we will not be afraid. We Christians are the children of God and for that reason we are rich and happy and have peace in our heart. Besides, the God Father whom we Christians believe in is a God almighty with his kingdom that the Father is pleased to give His children and His kingdom will have no end. Jesus used several parables to explain this kingdom to his disciples. However, this kingdom, as He told Christians, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”(Jh 18:36) This kingdom is worth for life and about life although we do not know what it will be exactly like. However, in the Revelation Saint John told us, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”(Rev 21:1) “Only those will enter, whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”(Rev 21:27) That is the kingdom that the Father is pleased to give us. We Christians do believe this kingdom and have faith in this kingdom since, as today's second reading says, “faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of thing not seen.”(Heb 11:1)

With this faith and in hope of entering the heavenly kingdom, we Christians do not be afraid any longer although we are a little flock. Amen.