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Glancing Thoughts
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
June 25, 2017

Eleonore Stump

The Gospel reading this week is focused on death. In the Gospel Reading, Jesus tells his apostles not to be afraid of those who can kill you. They are not to be feared, because death itself is not to be feared.

No doubt, there is always something sorrowful about dying, because the death of the body separates the dying person from his family and his friends; and they still have to slog through their lives in this world without their companion. But Jesus is telling people not to fear facing death.

If you were walking alone down a dark street late at night, and you saw a small knot of strangers gathered menacingly at a corner, wouldn’t you be afraid? Shouldn’t you be afraid? If the cancer doctor tells you that you have only months to live, wouldn’t you—shouldn’t you—be afraid?

How can Jesus tell us—actually, command us—not to be afraid of death?

Well, think about it this way. If you are surprised when you discover that you are dying, you just haven’t been paying attention. None of us is getting out of this alive. Everyone of us will die. It is just a question of when. Or maybe better: it is just a question of how.

Are you afraid now? Is this scary to you?
Here is how it will be if you love the Lord. In dying, you will move through the veil that separates you, in this world of sorrow and suffering, from the Lord’s own presence. There, on the other side, you fill find all tears wiped away—the ones you wept before and the ones that are now stuck in your heart—by the tenderness of your creator. You will think you must be dreaming, because the beauty and the goodness of that world surpass your every want or need, and you yourself will be what you never imagined you could be. Surrounded by beauty and goodness, bathed in the love of the Lord, you will join the angels in singing for joy at what the Lord is done.

Are you afraid now? Is this scary to you?

What is worth fearing is losing all of this beauty and goodness on the other side of death because you will not surrender to the love of the Lord who calls you to himself. But that death comes from sin, as the Second Reading says, and no one can force sin on you. If you wall yourself off from the love of the Lord, you kill your soul yourself. That is definitely worth fearing, as the Lord says.

Eleonore Stump
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C).
This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go