Monday, June 19, 2017

Be Not Afraid - June 25, 2017

The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Image result for sparrows in bible passagesReading I:
Jeremiah 20: 10-13


Reading II:
Romans 5: 12-15

Gospel: Matthew 10: 26-33

At a time when terrorist attacks are occurring around the world and people are dying for their faith,  Jesus’ words of reassurance are most appreciated. When there are threats of nuclear bombs, and we do not know what tomorrow will bring, how comforting the words of Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel from Matthew: “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.” 

This reminds me of a hymn I heard for the first time when I was a campus minister at Xavier University of New Orleans. It has become one of my favorites.

“His Eye Is On The Sparrow”                
Words by Civilla D. Martin, 1905
Music by Charles H. Gabriel, 1905

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


When we are concerned whether we would be strong enough 
to accept torture or give up our lives for our faith, we need to
ask the Lord’s help to remain faithful. He can give us courage
beyond our ability. We need to trust that He is with us. He
knows our weaknesses. He can give us the strength that

In the meantime, Jesus wants us to lead our lives according
to his teachings. He wants us to offset the hatred in our world
by acts of love. The benefit concert by Ariana Grande for the
victims of the Manchester attacks is a great example. Love
can triumph over hate. That is the meaning of “Thy Kingdom come.” which we frequently pray in the “Our Father.”

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

No tengas miedo

En un momento en que los ataques terroristas están ocurriendo en todo el mundo y la gente está muriendo por su fe, las palabras de Jesús de tranquilidad son muy apreciadas. Cuando hay amenazas de bombas nucleares y no sabemos lo que traerá el mañana, ¿cómo reconfortar las palabras de Jesús en el evangelio de este domingo de Mateo: “¿No se venden dos gorriones por una moneda pequeña? Sin embargo, ninguno de ellos cae al suelo sin el conocimiento de tu Padre.”

Esto me recuerda un himno que escuché por primera vez cuando era un ministro de la universidad de Xavier de New Orleans. Se ha convertido en uno de mis favoritos.

“Sus ojos están en el gorrión”
Palabras de Civilla D. Martin, 1905
Música de Charles H. Gabriel, 1905

¿Por qué debo sentirme desanimado, por qué deben venir las sombras,¿Por qué debería mi corazón estar solo, y anhelar el cielo y el hogar,
¿Cuándo Jesús es mi porción? Mi amigo constante es Él:
Su ojo está en el gorrión, y yo sé que Él me observa;
Su ojo está en el gorrión, y yo sé que Él me vigila.

Yo canto porque soy feliz,
Yo canto porque soy libre,
Porque su ojo está sobre el gorrión,
Y sé que Él me vigila.
“No se turbe vuestro corazón”, Su palabra tierna oigo,
Y descansando en Su bondad, pierdo mis dudas y temores;
Aunque por el sendero que Él guía, pero un paso puedo ver;
Su ojo está en el gorrión, y yo sé que Él me observa;
Su ojo está en el gorrión, y yo sé que Él me vigila.


Siempre que me siento tentado, siempre que surgen nubes,
Cuando las canciones dan lugar a los suspiros, cuando la esperanza dentro de mí muere, Me acerco más a Él, desde el cuidado Él me libera; Su ojo está en el gorrión, y yo sé que Él me observa;
Su ojo está en el gorrión, y yo sé que Él me vigila.


Cuando nos preocupa si seríamos lo suficientemente fuertes
Para aceptar la tortura o renunciar a nuestras vidas por nuestra fe, necesitamos pide ayuda del Señor para que permanezca fiel. Puede darnos coraje más allá de nuestra capacidad. Necesitamos confiar en que Él está con nosotros. Él conoce nuestras debilidades. Él puede darnos la fuerza que nosotros necesitar.

Mientras tanto, Jesús quiere que llevemos nuestras vidas
A sus enseñanzas. Quiere que compensemos el odio en nuestro mundo por actos de amor. El concierto benéfico de Ariana Grande para el Víctimas de los ataques de Manchester es un gran ejemplo. Amor Puede triunfar sobre el odio. Ese es el significado de “Tu Reino Vienen”,  que con frecuencia oramos en el “Padre Nuestro”.


  1. Civilla Martin, the woman who wrote the words of “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” composed the song after a visit to her bedridden friend who replied to Martin’s question about her illness and discouragement. Her friend’s response was that “the heavenly Father watches over each little sparrow and I know He loves and cares for me.” Your focus on this song is so applicable to emotions I am currently experiencing that I believe you were guided to structure your post with this song.
    On a recent evening visit to the rehabilitation facility to visit my mother (who was recovering from a fall), I was struck by the emptiness of the long term care unit. My usual visiting time was during the day when the room was bustling with activity as nursing staff tended to the needs of countless advanced care residents. Visitors need to navigate through a maze of wheel chairs and geriatric chairs to get to the elevator. That night was different. There was only one woman in the far corner. I assumed she was the last of the patients to be prepared for bed and was awaiting an aide to take her to her room. As I waited for the elevator she uttered a loud, sad wail. It arose from the depth of her soul and it touched the depths of mine. I felt as though her cry represented the destitute of humanity – the lamentations of mankind through all generations past and those to come. I was shaken and that moan haunted me the entire night. I uttered a prayer for her though it felt clumsy; I didn’t know how or what to pray but I knew I needed to do so for my well-being as well as for hers.
    Weeks later, I am still unsettled. The woman’s cry was an invitation for me to explore my unexamined thoughts on aging. What does this continued discomfort represent for me? Do I fear that such illness might be my destiny? I’m struggling to reconcile such misery. Is suffering necessary to purify the soul? I question how it is possible for the caregivers to keep nursing the sick when they are not getting any better.
    My restlessness led me to the book, “A Spirituality of Caregiving”, by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen writes of his own caregiving experiences with the handicapped. “My true call is to look the suffering Jesus in the eyes and not be crushed by his pain, but to receive it in my heart and let it bear the fruit of compassion.” Compassionate caring “must always include empathetic awareness of the inner suffering and unique blessedness of those to whom we offer care.”
    Locked inside this woman, and the other residents too fragile to relate, are so many untold stories. What would they tell us if they could speak? What life lessons can I learn from these weary individuals in the sunset season of life?
    Jesus chose the sparrow, the most common of birds, to teach us that in God’s eyes no one is insignificant. Pope Francis calls the elderly “an essential part of … society… a precious treasure.” Do these suffering elders know that they have immeasurable value and are loved by their Creator? Our identity as a beloved daughter or son of God is unchanged by weakness, illness, age or death. These precious lives offer us so much grace. Nouwen reminds us:“They all hold a blessing, a blessing that each of us need to receive. Caregiving is receiving God’s blessing from those to whom we give care. What is the blessing? It is a glimpse of the face of God. Seeing God is what heaven is all about! We can see God in the face of Jesus, and we can see the face of Jesus in all those who need our care. Those in need of our care are waiting to bless us.”
    After that night, passing through the long term care unit was like making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. I sensed the Presence of God in the space filled with moans and yelling, and in the lifeless blank stares and tears. As the song goes,” Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, from care he sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    Pat C., ASBS

  2. Pat, Thanks for the touching reflection. His Peace!!

  3. What an exuberant, uplifting message! Everyone who reads it will probably want to "sing along." This is the type of uplift we all need now and then.

    In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus emphatically urges the apostles to be brave. Fear no one! "Be not afraid of those who kill the body...." We are reminded of the importance of
    fortitude. The following excerpts are from an address by Pope Francis concerning the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit:

    There are... difficult moments and extreme situations in which the gift of fortitude manifests itself in an
    extraordinary way everyday.... The Church shines with the testimony of so many brothers and sisters who have not hesitated to give their very lives in order to remain faithful to the Lord and his gospel.... All of us know people who have experienced difficult situations and great suffering. Let us think of those men an women who have a difficult life, who fight to feed their families, educate their children. They do all of this because the spirit of fortitude is helping them."
    "Dear friends, sometimes we may be tempted to give in to laziness, or worse - to discouragement, especially when faced with the trials and hardships of life. In these cases, let us not lose heart, but let us invoke the Holy Spirit so that through the gift of fortitude we can lift our hearts and communicate new vigor and enthusiasm to our lives and our following of Jesus."

    Pope Francis
    St. Peter's Square
    May 14, 2014

    Sr. Therese Mary Warner, Thank you for your inspiring contributions to our blog.