Our community has more than twenty years of history in Dallas. What began as five or six families coming together to study the Bible and pray together, quickly became a community that regularly gathered at nearby churches for Masses and meetings. As the numbers grew, they requested that the Diocese of Dallas help establish a permanent Chinese Catholic community in 1990. In 1992, we put our money together and purchased a small office building in Richardson, Texas. By the end of 1993, we had renovated it to become our sanctuary and activity hall. With the guidance of priests seconded from Taiwan and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, our small community grew stronger in numbers and in faith.

Do not be afraid!

Matthew 10: 26-33

Homily for First Mass by Fr. Tommy Chen

12th Sunday, June 22, 2008

Do not be afraid! These are the words of our Lord that I echo to you today as I begin my ministry as a priest of Jesus Christ.

Do not be afraid the Lord tells us, because he knows that following him is not always easy.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Christ speaks these words to his disciples foretelling that they would be despised on account of their faith in him, but they are called to rely on the courage of the Holy Spirit to sustain them through the future persecutions that would lead many of them to a martyrs’ death.

Christ speaks these same words to us today. Christ tells us, Do not be afraid of living your life for me! You might be ridiculed…you might be laughed at…you might be misunderstood…you might stand counter to the rest of society: but Jesus says to us, “Stay strong, I will be with you like a mighty champion,” because you are more precious in God’s sight than all the sparrows of the world and God loves you so much and knows you so well that he even knows the number of hairs on your head.

We may not be persecuted and detested in the same way as the Apostles were…and we may not physically suffer a martyr’s death like many of the early followers of Christ. But the times that we live in are still as hostile to a Christian way of life as it had been through the ages. And one thing that a serious disciple of Christ is guaranteed to encounter in his journey of discipleship is the world’s opposition to the ways of Christ.

Yet at the same time we are called by Christ to remain in the world and to live in the world, so that through us God can establish His kingdom in the world. That is why Christ exhorts us to Be not afraid! Because he wants us to face the world and to testify to Him in the world by our lives.

Christ will not exempt us from the opposition of this world, because he wants to use us to change the world.

In this effort of converting the world, Christ does not abandon us, but gives us the gifts of his Holy Spirit, most especially through the sacraments of the Church, to strengthen us for the work of bringing salvation to the world. All of us young people and old people, married couples and unmarried singles, ordained clergy and unordained laity…all of us who share the baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection and who have been anointed as Priest, Prophet, and King have a special role to fulfill in the evangelization of the world. But each of our roles will bring with it a particular cross to carry brought on by the antagonism that we will encounter as Christ’s witnesses.

But Christ is with us like a mighty champion who cheers us on as we bear witness to Him in the world. And so…

To you unmarried singles, especially teenagers, the Lord says to you Do not be afraid of keeping your body and mind pure and chaste. Virginity is a gift from God for those who are not married, to be kept pure and intact until the day of your marriage, when you are able then to offer that gift totally to your spouse. You will be laughed at for not giving into the sexual promiscuity of our society. But the Lord asks you to stay pure, because by doing this, you will bear witness to the dignity of the human body and the awesomeness of the sexuality which God has gifted to you as an instrument of His glory, not for the mere pleasure and cheap enjoyment of someone else.

To you young married couples, the Lord says to you Do not be afraid of witnessing to the beauty of conjugal love that is always open to life. You will be ridiculed for not using society’s methods of contraception, but you will show us through your faithfulness and openness to life the true vocation of marital love which mirrors the life-giving love of Christ for his Church.

To you Christian parents, the Lord says to you Do not be afraid of placing your children and your family as your top priority. The world will entice you with the ambition to make more money and climb the corporate ladder which will cost you the price of spending countless hours separated from your family. These hours can never be repaid to your family. Yet your vocation is to be a parent to your children, to provide not only for their material needs, but also to be present to them as a constant emotional and spiritual support. When you faithfully fulfill this vocation as Christian parents, you show us that God is not an absentee-Father, but an ever-present and ever-loving Father, not a God who is far removed from his children, but a God who is close to us and knows the very depths of our being.

To you blessed with old age, the Lord says to you Do not be afraid when sickness and pain rack your body and your body grows weak. The world may devalue your life because you can no longer be “productive” by the world’s standards, but your life is still precious in God’s sight. In your weakness, the strength of the Lord is revealed and through your sufferings you make up for what is still lacking in the sufferings of Christ in his Body. In the frailty of these golden years of your lives, you show us the glory of the crucified and suffering Lord who in his weakest moment reigned from the cross as the King of Glory.

To you seminarians, the Lord says to you Do not be afraid to seek his will and commit to doing it. By your discernment, you show the world that God still speaks personally to each of us and calls us to a specific vocation in life. And that God still calls men to serve at his holy altar. The world may not understand why you would consider giving up certain pleasures and luxuries, but through your faithful discernment you show us that there is more to this life than what the world can offer.

To you consecrated religious, the Lord says to you Do not be afraid to live out fully your vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience by which you become a sign of contradiction to the world. Through your vowed poverty, we see that the rewards of heavenly glory outweigh any material possessions on earth. In your vowed chastity, we learn to offer to our Lord an undivided heart to love Him above all persons and things. And in your vowed obedience, we realize that we are not masters of ourselves, but we belong first to God who is our Creator and Lord.

To you the priests of the Church, the Lord says to us Do not be afraid to be a priest of Jesus Christ, to stand before God and his Church in persona Christi capitis – in the person of Christ the Head, to be a father to the Household of God, and to be a shepherd to the flock of Christ. It does the Church no good to have a priest who is unwilling or afraid to lead and govern the flock of Christ because he has adopted a false notion of equality and democracy. It does the Church no good to have a priest who is reluctant to teach and preach the truths of the Gospel and of the Catholic faith to the People of God, because he is afraid to be unpopular, since not all the teachings of the Church or of the Gospel are always easy to accept. It does the Church no good to have a priest who is careless and irreverent when he sanctifies the Body of Christ in celebrating the sacraments, because he discounts the sacredness of the Church’s rituals. Priests of Jesus Christ, by the grace of ordination we have become icons of Christ the High Priest and Good Shepherd, mediating Christ’s true presence to all those we encounter, so that what we do, reflects on Christ and his Church. When we preach, it is Christ who speaks; and when we bless, it is Christ who sanctifies; and when we go out to dinner with parishioners, it is Christ who dines with them; and when we go grocery shopping, it is Christ who walks through the aisles of HEB. We are never “off duty” being in persona Christi capitis. The People of God wants and needs priests to be priests and to act like priests, therefore Teach as Christ the Prophet who was rejected even by his own, Govern as Christ the King of Love who tenderly, but firmly searches out the lost sheep and calls them home, and Sanctify as Christ the Priest who offered the eternal sacrifice so perfectly and reverently on the cross…Do all this, so that the body of the Baptized can fulfill their vocation as Priest, Prophet, and King in order to bring the world into the one family of God.

So, beloved Church of God, being a follower of Christ is not easy. But the work of discipleship must be accomplished according to our particular vocation in life, so that Christ can sanctify the world through us. Christ does not abandon us to fulfill these responsibilities of Christian discipleship on our own. He gives us the grace of his Holy Spirit through the sacraments of the Church and through his Word which abides in our hearts. So, Do not be afraid! because Christ is with us as our mighty Champion. Do not be afraid to testify to Christ by your lives…speak Christ boldly “in the light”…and proclaim Christ courageously “on the housetops”! And Do Not Be afraid!

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