June 21; 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time; Year A

12th OT2 19 20Do not be afraid of being "cancelled"

One of my greatest fears is waking up to find that the comments section of my social media posting has been inundated with people calling me out for something problematic that I posted. There was a time when social media was a relatively innocent, peaceful and harmless virtual platform where you could post just about anything and get away with it. This is no longer true especially if you are a high profiled personality. Every word or thought or opinion which you express would be thoroughly scrutinised by keyboard warriors. The fear of being “cancelled” can cripple us to the point that nowadays, we find it hard to share our opinions honestly in public.

This phenomenon is what we call “cancel culture” which involves public denouncement of those who dare to express an opinion that is different from the position of a particular group. What makes them such a fearful force to contend with is that, they often act in a pack - like a pack of wolves or a school of piranhas. For actually expressing your opinion, you will be labelled with all sorts of names, depending on which end of the spectrum your critics belong to. One begins to see how the majority can be held ransom by a small but loud militant minority and eventually be forced to placate the latter by giving in to their demands. It is no longer Truth which motivates us but fear.

But today, our Lord repeatedly tells us, “do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid of speaking the Truth; do not be afraid of intimidation from those who wish to silence you: do not be afraid of opposition, persecution and even martyrdom at the hands of your enemies; do not be afraid because we are of great worth in the eyes of God. At the end of the day, do not be afraid of proclaiming the gospel.

There is no denying that it is tempting to stop preaching the gospel or to soften the message in order to make things easier and protect ourselves from suffering and opposition. It may seem for now that whatever is the Truth may be passed off by society as a lie, but we are assured by the Lord that those who bravely proclaim and defend the Truth will experience vindication one day. Even if the Truth seems obfuscated in our lifetime, one day, “everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.”

Therefore, despite all the opposition and vilification which we will receive, Christians must continue to speak “in the daylight” and proclaim the gospel “from the housetops.” Such bold proclamations may lead to martyrdom, there is no denying that. But our Lord reminds us that the goal of a Christian witness is not just survival and personal safety but salvation. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Therefore we should fear God more than our persecutors. Tell the truth and risk the wrath of the mob. But tell a lie and risk the wrath of God. We should prefer the former to the latter.

At the end of the day, the real motivation for our decisions, our actions and our speech should not be the fear of public reaction but rather, the judgment from God. Our Lord tells us that He will acknowledge us before His Heavenly Father, if we stand resolutely to acknowledge Him before His enemies. His enemies may harm our bodies, but God will save our souls. We may be “cancelled” by the angry mob, but we will be affirmed by our loving God. But be warned, less we take God’s patience and mercy for granted. God will not hesitate to “cancel” us, if we choose to placate the mob for our political survival, rather than stand for what is true and good and morally right, and be saved from eternal damnation.