Peace Be Still – He Qi
He Qi is a contemporary Chinese artist, born in 1951 in Nanjing, China. He was trained in the techniques of traditional Chinese art or folk-art, including calligraphy and painting. After completing his studies, he became a professor at the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary and later at the Academy of Fine Arts at Nanjing University.
His paintings often depict biblical stories and figures, with vibrant colours, intricate patterns, and a sense of movement.
Overall, He Qi is celebrated for his ability to merge traditional Chinese aesthetics with Christian themes, creating a distinctive visual language that resonates with people from different cultural backgrounds. His artwork continues to inspire and challenge viewers with its rich symbolism and spiritual depth.
Matthew 10: 26-33
Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: “Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the house-tops.
“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. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted.
So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows. “So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.
This reading is found within what is called the Mission Discourse of Jesus (Chapter 9:35 to 11:1). Here Jesus is addressing his disciples as he sends them out on a mission to proclaim the message of the kingdom of God. Immediately before in verses 16-25 Jesus warns his disciples about the challenges they will face during their mission. He tells them to be shrewd and innocent, to expect persecution, and to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance and words when confronted by opponents. After this reading, Jesus continues instructing about the cost of discipleship, emphasising the importance of putting God first and taking up one’s cross to follow him (verses 34-39).
Our reading is considered a crucial part of his instruction with its themes of trust in God, fearlessness in front of opposition and the ultimate reward of faithful discipleship.
Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the house-tops.
We find these words hard to take today, in our materialised world. In the time of Matthew it must have been difficult. Jesus wants to encourage them and us to overcome fear, not be discouraged and speak out. Nothing can stop the force of truth from expanding.
The preaching of Jesus was a modest undertaking, something like a whisper in the dark, in the ear. We see, after centuries, that the gospel has circled the globe and overcome many obstacles, many more remain… We need to be reminded to have courage to speak out.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Do not be afraid! Three times Jesus repeats this (10:26.28.31). Imagine Jesus pronouncing these words, standing boldly, he wasn’t afraid. He knew himself he would be killed with the hate of his adversaries growing around him like waves – from the start of his preaching.
Jesus possesses a deep understanding of true values. For him, earthly life is nothing compared to eternal life, which he knows from within as Son of the Father. Here, Catholic scholars stress the importance of maintaining an eternal perspective and striving for salvation. This verse reminds believers to prioritize their relationship with God and the state of their souls above worldly concerns. It calls for a detachment from the transient nature of earthly life and a focus on eternal truths and the pursuit of holiness.
The persecutor is the strongest in appearance: he has the weapons, the brute strength… stupidly strong. The persecuted on the other hand, is strong with an invincible inner strength. To be strong in spirit is what counts.
Fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.
Gê-Hinnōm, Valley of Hinnom in the Hebrew refers to a valley south of Jerusalem that became symbolic of hell as it was associated with idolatrous practices. It was notorious for being the tragic site where children were sacrificed to pagan gods. In the time of Jesus, this valley of Gehenna was the immense, nauseating bin of rubbish for Jerusalem, where they constantly burned rubbish – and corpses of criminals.
As we all know the body can be killed/destroyed but the soul cannot be killed, referring to it’s destruction Jesus emphasises our one fear is to lose our faith, to not have the courage to profess and live our faith.
The one who loses the Church is not the persecutor but the quitter. What should mobilise all the strength of the Church is the loss of faith in souls! Gehenna is what Jesus feared, that’s what one must fear!
Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing.
An unforgettable image. For Jesus, nothing escapes the Father’s attention, even the slightest event, a bird falling from its nest for example. While individuals have free will to make choices and take actions, this passage suggests that God remains aware and involved in the outcomes, even at the smallest level. It doesn't negate the existence of free will but rather emphasizes the belief in a loving and attentive God who is aware of every detail of His creation.
Why, every hair on your head has been counted.
So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.
Far from causing fear, God’s vigilance over every one of our acts should fill us with joy: I am loved… without the slightest distraction, without a moment’s pause. The one who loves me, knows me, down to the smallest detail: he knows how many hairs on my head!
If anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven.
It’s all about what’s essential: the soul. It’s about the profession of faith; a profession of faith before others and not simply an underground or hidden faith that no one can contest or challenge. It’s not just saying I believe when there is no contradiction or danger, when it doesn’t engage with anyone… When it doesn’t change our life.
It is before a tribunal, someone who does not agree with you and wants you to say the contrary, who mocks you, who tortures you, who thinks you’re crazy.
But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.
It we who make up our own Judgment. Jesus does not separate himself from anyone, he is separated from those who have separated themselves from him. He denies only those who first deny him. We can think of the renunciation of Peter, that Jesus so magnificently forgave, after his triple profession of faith and love. No sin, even the most grave, can be forgiven. The condition: to profess Jesus Christ, to firmly believe that he forgives and saves. The whole of our freedom lies in our ability to say, “ I believe in you”, in our daily duties, with courage in the face of what happens to us, in our trials…even to the shedding of blood.
God, the Father almighty, we come before You with humble hearts.
You choose to intimately care for us, Your beloved children.
Your love knows no bounds, transcending time and space.
Your heart is moved by our joys and sorrows,
our triumphs and failures.
Though You are the Alpha and Omega,
the Creator of galaxies and constellations,
You bend Your ear to our prayers and listen with compassion.
You know us intimately, understanding the depths of our souls
and the intricacies of our lives.
Even the smallest details do not escape Your notice.
In moments of doubt and uncertainty,
remind us of Your unwavering love.
When we feel insignificant
and lost amidst the grand tapestry of creation,
assure us that we are cherished and valued in Your sight.
Teach us to find comfort and solace in the knowledge
that Your love for us is unchanging and unconditional.
Reflecting upon these words, I’m reminded of the fears that often plague my heart. The fear of rejection, criticism, and the unknown. But You, dear Lord, remind me not to fear. You tell me that what is hidden will be revealed and what is whispered in secret will be proclaimed aloud. You are the Light that shines in the darkness, exposing the truth and dispelling the shadows of fear.
I find solace in knowing that I am deeply known and valued by You, O Lord. You care for every detail of my life, even the seemingly insignificant ones. Help me to trust in Your loving providence, for if You care for the sparrows of the field, how much more do You care for me, Your beloved child?
Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I have allowed fear to silence my voice and hinder my witness. Give me the courage to acknowledge You boldly before others, to speak Your truth with love, and to live a life that reflects the values of Your kingdom.
In a world that often distracts and tempts me with temporary concerns, grant me an eternal perspective. May I fix my gaze on the things that truly matter in light of eternity. Help me to prioritize my relationship with You above all else and seek first Your kingdom and it’s righteousness.
 John 21: 15-17