Several times a summer, we would grab blankets, round up the kids, and head out to the backyard. Lying next to one another, we would gaze up at the black sky dotted majestically with pinpricks of light. We would settle into silence—in awe and wonder at the vastness of the universe. I would then, almost in a whisper, remind our children of their worth: “Can you believe God created this magnificent universe? Isn’t it amazing how God set everything in order? Not only that, but God created you. God counts every hair on your head and knows every thought in your mind. God created you for all eternity with an infinite, unconditional love.”
Knowing one’s worth, purpose, and goal allows one to live freely—without fear. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear Jesus teaching His disciples: “Fear no one.” “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” The disciples eventually gain strength for mission through their understanding of being worth “more than many sparrows.” Empowered by this knowing, the Twelve “proclaim on the housetops,” and “acknowledge Christ before others.” The cost of discipleship could kill the body, but not the soul.
In 2015, outside of Aleppo, twelve Christians were selected for death after refusing to deny Christ. It was reported several were crying out the name of “Jesus” right before execution. For thousands of Christians in the Middle East, the cost of claiming Christ kills the body, but not the soul.
This past May, Rick Best, a Catholic father of four, defended two women—one Muslim, one black—who were being taunted on a subway in Portland, Oregon. Best was then attacked and killed by the white supremacist. Later, Deacon Jim Pittman told Best’s family, “Your dad died in the way Christ told us to." Bravery cost Best his body, but not his soul.
Yet for most of us, even speaking of Jesus Christ to our friends, neighbors, and relatives remains difficult. We craft our words. We weigh the consequences. What will others think? What will it cost us? A friendship? A position? A reputation? At these times, we wisely remember our worth, the gracious gift of redemption through Jesus Christ, and the importance of the soul over the body.
As parents/grandparents we name grace—God’s strengthening presence—by witnessing to the beauty of following Christ. We name grace by reminding our children of their profound worth: “Jesus counts every hair on your head.” “Out of love, Jesus Christ died for you.” “Jesus calls us to stand up for others, who are also made in His image and likeness.” “Jesus reigns before all else.”
On a recent trip to Northern Minnesota, I was tempted to take our grandchildren stargazing but was concerned about ticks, which can be debilitating—even life threatening. You see, life is not cheap and we are not to be careless with it. But when we view life in light of eternity, we realize giving our lives over for Christ is our highest calling. As St. Paul wrote: “… whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom 14: 8). They can kill the body, but not the soul. Now, that’s good news!
How have you witnessed to Christ?
What does your Christian faith cost you?
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.