Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time Franciscan Gospel Reflection 2023

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

June 22, 2023

Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel text for the Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Can you recall places in the Scriptures where God responds to the fears of the people or those he has chosen to be his servants?

The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection June 25 2023. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photos: Elise Saffo

Matthew 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

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. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.


The Gospel text from last Sunday (Matthew 9:36-10:8) described how Jesus was moved at the sight of the crowds who were abandoned like sheep without a shepherd. Then he called his disciples and commissioned twelve of them to be apostles, sending them out with authority to proclaim the kingdom of God to the lost sheep if Israel.  

In the Gospel text that follows that reading, Matthew then continues to describe Jesus’ instruction as to how the apostles are to travel. Jesus acknowledges the danger involved in being sent out to the towns and villages, and he asks that they rely on the Jewish code of hospitality for strangers. He directs them not to take money or provisions for themselves, and to stay at only one person’s house for the duration of their visit to a town (Matt 10:9-15). Jesus also tells them to be prepared for rejection and persecution; but even if they are rejected by others, God will still be with them. He concludes by saying that a slave is not greater than the master, implying that if He who is their master has endured rejection and harsh treatment when he was sent by his Father to be with them, they should at least be open to similar mistreatment (Matt 10:16-25).

If time permits, it would be beneficial to read the first twenty-five verses of the tenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel in preparation for your reflection on the Gospel for this Sunday.

The Gospel for this Sunday continues with Jesus’ further instruction to the apostles, where he asks them not to be afraid. The direct exhortation to “fear no one” may suggest that, for the faith-filled disciple, fear should be nonexistent. However, Jesus seems to acknowledge the fear the disciples may experience as they face the difficulties they will encounter.  Jesus does not suggest that they should not be afraid; rather he tells them they should be afraid of God who has the ability to bring upon them much greater pain: the physical, eternal pain of life without God. That would be worse than any physical suffering they might have to endure on their mission.

Jesus then uses two images to reassure the disciples of God’s intimate concern for each of them. God’s awareness of each of the numerous sparrows and countless hairs is a reminder to the disciples that even though they may feel abandoned or forgotten by God in difficult times, this is not so. God is acutely aware of each of them, and the hairs of one’s head are beyond being counted, yet God knows each of these. Therefore, it would be a serious mistake to give in to one’s doubts and turn from God.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What have been some of the fears you have experienced, now or in the past?
  2. What affect has fear had on you and how you live your life?
  3. Can you recall places in the Scriptures where God responds to the fears of the people or those he has chosen to be his servants?
  4. Are you familiar with psalms that speak of fear?
  5. Can you imagine a God who knows every hair on your head?
  6. How do you feel about God who knows you so well that God knows every hair of your head?
  7. Are there other images from the bible or other places that speak to you of God’s closeness to you?
  8. What is it that is so important to God, that God would ask you to face the possibility of your deepest fears?
  9. Can you take some time now to talk with God about your fears, or how you hear God asking you to address those fears?



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