Readings, Gospel, and Homily from the Mass Father Richard celebrated today
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Homily: Do not fear
“God is for us a refuge and strength, a helper close at hand, in time of distress, so we shall not fear though the earth should rock, though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea.”
Isn’t it amazing how the scriptures the Church gives us on a particular day are exactly what we need to hear? We have now an acceleration of the spread of coronavirus. Last night the Prime Minister’s instructed us to stay at home for all but essential reasons. It really does appear as though the earth is rocking, a reality that brings with it the temptation to immediately panic. And yet the Psalmist tells us today: God is with us in times of distress; “do not fear though the earth should rock.”
Yes, our Government has issued clear commands to not go out unless for certain reasons, but so too our God gives us a clear command “do not fear”. Yes, this indeed a command of God. If you’re panicking about the future, don’t. God insists: “do not fear, be not afraid.” Why? Because as the response to the Psalm says: “The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” Even though we’re not able to go to God’s House for the time being, the Lord is very much with us as we invite Him into our hearts this day. He never abandons his people. He’s always the rock on which we build and sustain our whole lives. He has opened for us the way to heaven, He leads us by the hand to life eternal.
We’re already seeing the fruits of this rejection of fear. The Italian priest Father Giuseppe Berardelli had no fear when he selflessly gave up his ventilator for a younger man. Our NHS staff and other key workers are putting any fear they have aside in their heroic treatment and care for people on the front line of this pandemic. These fruits of the rejection of fear are like those fruits which sprang up from the river that flowed from the Temple in our First Reading: flowing water that symbolises God’s love and grace.
So, the overwhelming message today is: do not fear, but go to the endless saving stream of Faith in Christ we received at the moment of our baptism, and the Lord of hosts will always be with us.
In the words of St John Paul II: “Do not be afraid, open wide the doors to Christ.” [John Paul II, Homily for the Inauguration of His Pontificate, Oct 22, 1978]