The First Reading says through his death, Jesus destroy(ed) the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by fear of death. When we look at what is happening in society due to this pandemic, we see there is this fear of death. The pandemic has become our god because it has controlled our lives. People are so afraid of getting infected that the fear is excessive. I am not saying there is no danger, and the death of just one person affected by the pandemic is one too many. But to have our actions, our lives, controlled by fear is unreasonable. Of course, we have to take precautions. Of course, we need to be careful. But to let the fear take over our lives?
It is ironic that a society that promotes death in the womb or for the elderly, is so afraid of dying. We see a society afraid of suffering. Perhaps it is due to the fact, that people have driven God from their lives. There is no hope of the resurrection. There is no meaning to suffering. This is why Jesus died: to free those who all their lives were held in slavery by fear of death!
This is the good news Jesus came to preach. The miracles mentioned in the Gospel today, the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law, the curing of various diseases and casting out of demons are proofs that Jesus has come to destroy the work of the devil. Diseases are not from God. Attacks from demons are not from God. But God allows them for a purpose, to lead us to himself, so that our fear of death may be driven out. Jesus sees his mission as preaching this good news, that he is here, not only to heal the diseases or drive out demons, but to be with us in our sickness and oppression from suffering. Jesus said Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for this is what I came out to do.
This is the message of Jesus: he is here, in our midst, to drive out our fear of death. Sickness is a glimpse of death. Death has been conquered. This does not mean we will not die, it means even if we die physically, we will still live with Christ with our resurrected bodies when we receive his message.
St Hilary was a bishop and is a doctor of the Church. He lived in 310-367 AD and is sometimes called the Athanasius of the West because of his defense of true doctrine against he Arians. The Arians believed Jesus was not God. This belief according to 1 John, is from the antichrist. If Christ was not divine, then his death would mean nothing, then he would have no power to free us from the fear of death. He has a quote which is similar to our First Reading: For He took upon Him the flesh in which we have sinned that by wearing our flesh He might forgive sins; a flesh which He shares with us by wearing it, not by sinning in it.
This is why it is critical that we learn about our faith because many today, teach their opinions, twisting the Gospel to suit their own ideas. When this happens, the Gospel loses its power and the call to repentance loses its meaning. Why should I turn to Jesus if he cannot save me? But the truth is, the death and resurrection of Jesus proves he is the Messiah and he has power to free us from the fear of death.
Lord, teach me to trust you, so that I may conquer this fear of death. I trust you Jesus because you are God and you are man, and you can save me. Free me from my fears of death and suffering, and draw me closer to you, so I may conquer these through your Gospel. St Hilary, lead me to the right teaching of Christ, that I may trust him fully.