Three times in the course of today’s gospel reading, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘Do not be afraid’. He was sending them out on a mission. He did not hide anything from them. He spoke clearly of the hostility they were likely to encounter. If they accused Jesus, the master, of associating with Beelzebul, what will they not say of the members of his household, Jesus’ followers! When it comes to witnessing publicly to our faith in the Lord, they (we) can all be held back by fear. Yet, they are not to be afraid of those who will oppose their message, even to the point of killing their body. They are to be free of fear because Jesus has brought them, and disciples of every generation, into an intimate relationship with God. We share in Jesus’ own relationship with God. As believers in Jesus, we enjoy a familial relationship with God, which is a sharing in Jesus’ own relationship with God as Son. We are valued and watched over by God. Only when we are convinced of this relationship we will be able to overcome fear and have the courage to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. Genuine faith is always a courageous faith. In the gospel reading today, Jesus gives us a reason why we can be courageous in witnessing to our faith in him. God who cares for the humble sparrow cares for us even more, we who are worth ‘more than hundreds of sparrows’. God holds us in the palm of his hand, especially when we witness publicly to our faith in his Son, when, in the words of Jesus at the end of the gospel reading, we declare ourselves publicly for him before others. It is above all at such times that God is our refuge and our strength, in the language of one of the Psalms.