Friday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
“Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna ….”
In the secular culture that surrounds modern Western man, the idea that Jesus makes moral demands, or sets moral boundaries, is anathema. How, then, can today’s Gospel passage be understood? Jesus declares: “I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.”
Still, just three sentences later Jesus demands: “Do not be afraid.” There seems to be a contradiction, inasmuch as Jesus tells us to be afraid, and then not to be afraid.
In fact, Jesus here insists that we have a fully-rounded, rather than two-dimensional, view of God. We may consider Jesus to be speaking of God the Father, or of Himself, when He describes whom one should fear. As God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit condemn the one who persists in mortal sin. Fear of God, the Just Judge, however, is a fear that helps us shape our lives.
This is a “holy fear”, upon which we need especially to meditate on this day of the week when Jesus His Passion and Death. This holy fear gives direction to our days on this earth and to each day’s choices. But guided by this holy fear, we can trust in the God who guides us away from sin, and to Himself.