In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us, “Fear no one… do not 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.” Cf. Mt. 10:26-33 Thus, we are not to fear anyone, not even the demons of hell. That is why the Apostles were sent out to proclaim the Kingdom of God by curing the sick, raising the dead, dying to self to serve the poor and even drive out demons.
The only fear we should experience is to have the holy fear of God – one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The holy fear of God is not a servile fear of punishment, but rather a fear of losing out on God’s all surpassing love and grace. In other words, we want to revere God for he is the source and summit of all that is good and perfect, all natural and supernatural gifts. Sin offends God and blocks his graces – of which alone make us happy and whole. Repentance pleases God because that opens up our soul to more of his divine graces.
Jesus Christ reminds us that we should not fear any-one who can kill the body, but rather we should always be concerned about saving our soul. We want to live in sanctifying grace, yes, but we also want to grow in the other gifts and blessings of God: Wisdom, Knowledge, Compassion, Courage.
Jesus reminds us that God the Father is watching over us with love and knows every hair on our head. God the Father knows every detail about us since we proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Don’t we pray every morning and night with Jesus? “Our Father, who art in heaven…forgive us our trespasses as we for-give those who trespass against us.” This draws down many blessings from heaven to us and those whom we hold in our heart while we pray.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we seek forgiveness and forgive others, but it does not mean that we let them walk over us. Even though we pray for others, even those who persecute or even hate us, it does not mean we give up the fight for our own lives, rights, responsibilities.
This is how we grow in holiness, by loving God the Father and one another to the point of complete sacrifice. We can only do this when we stay close to Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church, thereby allowing God the Father to dwell within us through the grace of our baptism and the other sacraments, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Many of our teenagers are taking the teachings of Jesus Christ to heart. They call themselves the Pro-Life Generation and they are praying, fasting and marching to stop the killing of preborn babies, who are the most innocent and vulnerable of all human beings.
Over the difficult time of COVID-19 and quarantine, the Students for Life – a Pro Life Organization – have received over 120 new applications by students who want to start a pro-life group at their school or college. Students for Life have already trained over 1,250 of these prolife student groups across our nation to defend human life at its most vulnerable stage.
Another example of a student who loved Jesus Christ is the heroic story of Kendrick Castillo. Kendrick Castillo was confronted by a gunman at his High School in Denver, Colorado, May 7, 2019.
Immediately Kendrick placed himself in harm’s way and tackled the gunman to save the lives of his classmates. Kendrick was shot and killed, but his heroic action gave his classmates time to wrestle the gun away from this criminal and detain him until the police arrived.
Kendrick Castillo grew up speaking English and Spanish in suburban Denver and attended a Catholic school until 8th grade. He loved his family, friends and grandpa, a former United States Marine, and often camped and fished with him before his grandpa died.
Kendrick’s Dad remembers how Kendrick would often pray for his grandpa. His father commented after his son’s death, “Kendrick was proud of him, proud that his grandpa was a hero. Part of me knows that Kendrick wanted to live that legacy. He loved patriotism. We are Hispanic, but we love America to the core.”
Kendrick and his Dad, John, a member of the Knights of Columbus at Notre Dame Catholic Church, would spend over 1,000 hours helping the parish and larger community throughout his middle and high school days. He was killed two weeks before graduation.
When the Knights of Columbus heard of this tragic situation and the heroic actions of Kendrick, they stepped up and paid for the funeral expenses. Over 2,000 showed up for the memorial service at the High School gymnasium. The governor of Colorado declared May 15, to be Kendrick Castillo day.
His Mom and Dad are heartbroken that their only child was taken from them, but his Dad said, “I know that because of what he did, others are alive, and I thank God for that. I love him. And he is a hero and he always will be. He just loved people so much.”
Kendrick’s life and death are an example of living the mission of Jesus Christ, “Love one another as I have loved you.” That moment of self-sacrifice to save the life of others was engendered by his grandpa, parents, friends, and ultimately Jesus Christ and his Church.
Let us be the pro-life generation and put an end to violence against every innocent human life. With the grace and courage of God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the wisdom, reverence and understanding of the Holy Spirit received at our baptism. May we live deeply the call to protect human life and the spiritual life of the soul, the grace that leads to the reward of Eternal Life, Perfect Love and Infinite Peace with Mary and all the Saints who stood up for innocent life.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe