Opening Question: When was the last time you felt your could do something difficult?
First Reading: Jeremiah 20:10-13
Jack knew lots of people, but had just a few close friends. To the people he knew, Jack was friendly and out-going, while his friends knew Jack as loyal. Everyone liked Jack, and Jack liked everyone he met. But, the one thing people admired in Jack was his honesty. When people dealt with Jack, they knew he told them the truth.
But slowly the rumors began to fly about Jack, in the same way people talked about Jeremiah.
(Read "Jeremiah said to God, I.")
I heard the crowds whisper, "Everyone is afraid. Now's our chance to accuse Jeremiah!" All of my so-called friends are just waiting for me to make a mistake. They say, "Maybe Jeremiah can be tricked. Then we can overpower him and get even at last."
"Why don't people like me?" Jack though to himself. "Why do they talk like that about me?" Jack must have felt like Jeremiah, very, very alone. Could anyone help Jack? "Yes!" Jack thought to himself. "God will understand me. I'll talk to him!"
(Read "Jeremiah said to God, II.")
But you, Lord,
are a mighty soldier,
standing at my side.
will fall down and failó
you test those who do right,
and you know every heart
I have told you my complaints,
so let me watch you
take revenge on my enemies.
I sing praises to you, Lord.
You rescue the oppressed
from the wicked.
Talking to God helped Jack feel better. While other people talked behind Jack's back, while they said "We don't believe in Jack," Jack knew God believed in him. Nothing else really matter.
We all like to have people like us. But the difference between someone you know and a real friend is three simple words: "I believe in you!" God tells us these three words all the time!
Has any one said or acted like they believed in you and what you could do? How did you feel? Have you ever said "I believe in you" to someone else?
Bridging Question: What do people worry about? In school? At home? On a sports team?
Gospel: Matthew 10:26-33
Jesus told the followers he sent out to serve the people:
Don't be afraid of others! For everything you try to cover up will be uncovered. And all your secrets will be known. What I told you in the dark, tell everyone in the light. What you heard me whisper in your ear, shout to everyone from the top of your house. Don't be afraid of people who kill you. They kill your body, not your spirit. But be more afraid of God, the one who can destroy your body and spirit in hell.
Can't you buy two sparrows for a penny? Yet, one of them will not fall to the ground unless your Father wishes it. But, all the hairs on your heads been counted by your Father. So, don't be afraid. You're worth so much more than a lot of sparrows!
I will tell my Father in heaven about anyone who says to other people, "I belong to Jesus." But, in front of my Father in heaven, I will reject anyone who says to others, "I reject Jesus."
Before her soccer games, Crystal always worried. As goalie, she wondered if she could really defend her team's net. And she worried about disappointing her teammates, family, and friends. To make matters worse, she never talked about her concerns to anyone. Her family and friends just noticed Crystal got really quiet and intense before the games.
In the first game of the new season, Crystal stood quietly as play began. The game seemed to go back and forth on the mid-field. Suddenly, two of the forwards on the other side made a break away and ran toward Crystal. One player passed the ball to the other at the last moment. The ball was kicked and Crystal dove to catch. The ball rolled off her fingertips. "Goal" yelled one of the forwards. Crystal's heart fell. She just knew everyone would hate her. Even on the ground, she felt even more tense.
"No goal," whistled the referee, as he signaled offsides. "Goal kick!"
Crystal's teammates screamed. "Get ready!" one of her teammates said to her. Crystal tried to shake off her down feeling and get back into the game.
Back and forth went the game. Crystal's team got two more shots on goal. Both missed. Crystal caught the only shot on her goal, but it rolled easily toward her. Then the referee blew the whistle for halftime.
When Crystal got back her bench, the coach beamed, "Ladies, you're doing great!"
"Not me," Crystal thought to herself.
"Don't you know who you're playing?" the coach asked. "That team advanced to the county championships! Keep fighting!" The coach then discussed strategy and individual players. Finally, the coach turned to Crystal. "You defended that first goal well, Crystal."
"But the ball went into the goal," she replied to the coach.
"Really, Crystal, I've never seen you try so hard. Nobody could have defended that goal as well as you did," the coach raved.
Crystal could feel herself relax a little. "If that was good, I can do better," Crystal thought. And she did. Four blocked shots on goal. The more intense the game got toward the end, the more confident she felt. When the referee whistled the end of the game and the score was tied 0-0, other players on the team may have felt a little down, but not Crystal. She walked off the field feeling great. She defended against one of the best teams she would face that year. And she caught all they could throw at her. All because someone told her "Don't worry. I believe in you."
Jesus told his followers the same thing. "Don't worry. I believe in you. And so does my Father." Nothing anyone could do to them could change what Jesus said to them. People could even kill the followers of Jesus, and it wouldn't matter. The Father cared for them and Jesus would defend them before the Father.
Jesus says the same thing to you that he said to his followers. "Don't worry. I believe in you!"
Closing Question: How can you help others believe that Jesus trusts them?