Matthew 10:24-39 (NRSV)
Verse 24"A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; Verse 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! Verse 26"So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Verse 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Verse 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Verse 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Verse 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. Verse 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. Verse 32"Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; Verse 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. Verse 34"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Verse 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; Verse 36and one's foes will be members of one's own household. Verse 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; Verse 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Verse 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus tells the disciples as he is sending them out into the world to proclaim the arrival of the reign of God. Jesus’ words in the middle of our reading may be a bit unsettling for those disciples and for us as they seem to point to a harsh reality of the persecution the disciples will face when they speak about Jesus to the world. In answer to their concern Jesus speaks this word of grace: “Not one [sparrow] falls to the ground apart from your Father. … So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Jesus’ words of encouragement and comfort are addressed to us as well. In the middle of things that look horrible to us, God doesn’t abandon us. We are precious in God’s sight, precious enough to die for.
Help us always to remember that we belong to you, dear God, and are precious to you. Amen.