26 “Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 27 What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.28 And 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.29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted.31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.32 Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.33 But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Mt 10:26-33)
Context. Depending on when Easter is celebrated in any a given year, certain readings from Matthew’s gospel may or may not be proclaimed. In 2017, the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time was celebrated on February 26th. The following Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and our Sunday readings were then taken from the Lenten Season. Lent gave way to the Easter Season and its assigned readings. After the Easter Season, we would begin the Ordinary Time readings again with the 9th Sunday…except there are three solemnities: Pentecost, Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi. Consequently, Ordinary Time readings begin anew with the 12th Sunday. Here is a quick overview and context.
9th Sunday Matthew 7:21-27
The end of the Sermon on the Mount and its discourse on the deeper, fuller meaning of the Law and righteousness, Jesus says to the disciples: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock” (Mt 7:24-25)
10th Sunday Matthew 9:9-13
Mt 8:1 to 9:38 is Matthew’s description of the powerful deeds of Jesus, nine in all, interspersed between is the theme of discipleship. Mt 9:9-13 is the call of Matthew, the tax collector, to follow Jesus as a disciple. Jesus also describes the intrinsic nature of his mission: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mt 9:13)
11th Sunday Matthew 9:36 – 10:8
This reading is the story of sending out the disciples: “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mt 9:36)
The first verses of Matthew 10 describe Jesus’ sending the disciples on mission: the names of the Twelve, their commissioning (vv. 5:15), and a warning of the persecutions they will face (vv.16-25). It is after this warning that the opening verse of our reading has its meaning: “Therefore do not be afraid of them.”
The idea that discipleship involves mission sets the stage for the second major discourse by Jesus — the missionary discourse in Matthew 10. The basic theme is stated in 10:24–25: “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master.” Just as the disciples share in Jesus’ power, so they must share his life, mission, and his sufferings. As Matthew describes in v.19, the disciples will be “handed over” (paradidomi), the same word Jesus uses in the description of his own passion (17:22; 20:18–19; 26:2). Like Jesus, they will suffer for the sake of the divine mission in the world.