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June 25, 2023: 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

When I was in middle school, there were times I didn’t want my fellow students to see my parents drop me off or pick me up in the school parking lot. I was embarrassed of my parents. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it was our station wagon. Or I didn’t want to look like a little kid. But in retrospect that was a silly thing to do. I was a kid. And I had two parents who loved me and had built a wonderful family. I was afraid of the other kids’ judgment. How silly! I should have been afraid of forgetting or downplaying my family, which is where my identity had its deep roots.

This is a way to understand Jesus’ words to his disciples this Sunday, when he says, “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”Fear, in this sense, refers to where we find our deepest identity and our highest love. That’s why Jesus says next that when we acknowledge him before others, he will acknowledge us before the Father. It doesn’t mean we’re brash or boastful. But rather we unhesitatingly and humbly embrace our identity as followers of Jesus and children of God the Father. After all, if we love who we are and where we come from, who cares what the other kids think about us?

— Father John Muir



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