Fear No One – Dcn. Ken Billinger

Dcn. Ken Billinger’s Homily June 20, 2020

“‘Fear no one.’  That’s the words we hear from Christ in the Gospel tonight, so I’ll ask you a question, what is your fear?  Is it death?  Maybe terminal illness?  Maybe it’s sharing your faith with others, or perhaps it’s your spouse’s driving?  What is it that you fear?  In today’s Gospel Jesus is telling his disciples not to fear to fear no one to be bold to share the faith with others and I want to share a story of a man back in 1967 who was ordained a priest and again, we’re talking about ‘fear no one’ Jesus says, ‘fear no one’.  But in 1967 he was ordained a priest and just a short time later he was sent halfway around the world to a small country not far off the coast of Australia and he landed in an airport in Port Moresby Papua New Guinea.  This young priest was taken out of his element, completely put into another place that he’d never been before in a culture totally different with many different languages spoken.  Fear no one, but I’m going to fast forward just a little bit.  He’s been there for 50+ years.  There’s a couple stories I want to share, quick stories about this priest.  Now I want to also mention that this priest is a very gentle, humble, meek person, but in one situation he was faced with some tribes that were fighting in the southern highlands of Papua New Guinea where he is stationed.  Basically he got between the two fighting factions, the two leaders of the tribes and he got between them and he stopped them and he basically escorted each leader back to his respective tribe.  Now here in the United States we have roads that are wonderful interstate highway systems.  To go 90 miles takes about an hour and ten minutes, but the roads if you want to call them that in Papua New Guinea are very rough so to go 90 miles takes about four and a half hours.  One day this particular priest was taking some nuns from one village to another and they were stopped along the way by gunman and this priest got out of the car and was face to face with a gun at gunpoint.  They wanted the nuns to get out of the car and he said, ‘no they will not get out of the car.’  They continued to want that to happen and he continued to say no they will not get out of the car because he knew that they would be injured they would be hurt one way or another even killed.  Eventually the gunman relented and they went on their way to the next village.  This priest, I had an opportunity to talk to him just a couple of years ago.  He happens to be my cousin.  Many of you here know him because of family, Fr. Peter Mice, and I asked Fr. Peter I said, ‘What was that experience like for you, coming into a country you didn’t know and then getting in the middle of warring tribes and then being faced at gunpoint and your life was at stake?’  And he said to me, ‘I just simply trusted in God.  I trusted in God.’  And that really stuck with me because that’s something we struggle with at times.  Sometimes we’re afraid to share our faith because we just don’t have that trust. 

You know, I love the Easter season because we read from the Acts of the Apostles and the Apostles, you saw what happened to them, they were transformed.  During Christ’s Passion and death they fled.  Peter denied Christ three times, but what we saw was the Holy Spirit come into them and they became brave and they obviously shared the Gospels with others even after being thrown into prison and being taunted and being constantly bombarded by different things through their mission, but they continued to preach the Gospel with joy and I think that’s a good lesson for us.  We can not be afraid to share how Christ has affected our lives.  We don’t have to know everything in the world.  We just have to share with others how Christ has affected us and share our faith with others.

In just a few moments we’re gonna have the opportunity to come forward to receive Christ in the Eucharist, the body, blood, soul and divinity of our faith, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ the source and summit of our faith and so I encourage you to do two things today:

  1. When you struggle with that fear ask Christ for the grace to be stronger, to be bold and to share that with others.
  2. When you come forward today to receive what is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ not merely a symbol, it’s the source and summit of our faith, so think about what you are receiving today when you come forward to receive the Eucharist.  Amen.”