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The Fearlessness of Jesus - Family Reflection Video

The Fearlessness of Jesus - Family Reflection Video

Love thy Neighbor

Have you ever had this upsetting feeling that people are watching your every move and waiting to pounce on you when you commit even the slightest mistake? Jesus is presented to be in this sort of position in today's gospel. The time is the Sabbath. The place is the synagogue. A man is sitting there with a withered hand. Jesus is entering. The Pharisees are watching him closely to see if he will cure him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And sure enough, Jesus, who sees them and knows why they are there, says to the man “Come up here before us. Stretch out your hand.” 

Even if Jesus had the best intentions of curing the man with a withered hand, people, particularly the Pharisees, took offence at him because, in their eyes, Jesus had violated the Sabbath. However, Jesus stood his ground and did what he thought was truly important: to release this man from his pain and misery on account of his withered hand. 

Jesus, who had claimed the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, went on meeting the needs of those He met along the way: feeding the hungry, assisting fishermen with their catch, calling out demons, healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, and even raising the dead. Jesus did good wherever he went. His compassion was genuine. 

In Jesus Before Christianity, author Father Albert Nolan, OP notes that there are "no traces of fear in Jesus." The gospel story today makes that point. Jesus wasn't afraid of authority; he wasn't scared of scandal. He wasn't afraid to consort with prostitutes and the unclean. He challenged the authorities of his time.  

However, His fearlessness made authorities fear him. They were afraid of his attractiveness to potential followers. He was a light in their darkness. He gave hope to the least fortunate. They thought if they allowed him to continue to attract followers, they could lose their own power and control. 

In his inaugural speech as the first African President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, South Africa's great liberator, expressed a similar message when he said: "It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens others...” 

Where are we today? Are we conscious of those who are watching us? Are we afraid of displeasing our friends? Are we afraid to identify with the Jesus who displeased authority? Do we do favors because we love, or because we want a favor in return?  

Or, in practical terms, do we volunteer at the soup kitchen or take communion to shut-ins for recognition, or because we really love the people? Do we participate in the sacraments and the Mass, or obey the rules of the Church, to be seen, or out of habit, or to come closer to Jesus? 

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About Father Boby John, C.S.C.

Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.