FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Jeremiah 20:10-13 | Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35 | Romans 5:12-15 | Matthew 10:26-33
After our 50 days of Easter and two solemnities, we celebrate the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today we also celebrate Father’s Day, honoring our fathers, grandfathers and all those who have acted as fathers in our life. In this Mass, we shall pray for God’s plentiful blessings
for those who are alive and for joys of heaven for those who have died.
Jessica, a little girl. came very early one morning to Jorge, her father, saying, “Which is worse, Papa, to tell a lie or to steal?” The Father replied that both were so sinful she could not tell which was worse. “Well, Papa,” replied Jessica, “I’ve been thinking a good deal about it, and I think it’s ever so much worse to lie than to steal.” “Why, my dear?” asked Jorge. “Well, you see Papa, it’s like this,” said Jessica. “If you steal a thing, you can take it back, unless you’ve eaten it, and if you’ve eaten it, you can pay for it; but a lie is forever.”
Those committed to doing good and challenging the status quo are guaranteed lots of opposition. In our first reading, Prophet Jeremiah delivers very bad news: Judah and Jerusalem will fall into the hands the Babylonian king and God’s holy people will be sent into a long exile due to their disobedience to God and their violation of their covenant with him. As a messenger of truth, Jeremiah did not proclaim what people want to hear but what God has called him to speak about. For delivering a message at odds with the crowd, Jeremiah was tagged as terrorist, arrested without a warrant, and mercilessly tortured and maltreated in prison by Pashur, chief governor of the temple. It was legal power used illegally or law employed to the detriment of righteousness. Faced with the dangerous situation he did not despair but placed his complete trust in the Lord. He bore the insults and cruelty with patience and humility. Even though he is angry at his persecutors, he did not seek his own revenge on them. Instead, he earnestly prayed to God to give them what they deserve.
The story is told about a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father tried to find him. He searched to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Manila daily. The ad read: “Dear Emil, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.” On Saturday 500 Emils showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
Sin and lost of one's moral compass can spread like a contagion through society and eventually the world. People are affected by the attitudes and examples of others, and this sort of behavior forms the culture that in turn forms us.
Paul’s letter to the Romans describes the tidal wave of sin that started from just one person and was passed from one generation to the next by culture and example. But where sin abounds, God's grace abounds much more. Just as sin can spread from the actions of a few, so love and grace can spread from the sacrifice and love of just one.
Father and son explorers Richard and Raymond, were on a jungle safari when suddenly a ferocious lion jumped in front of them. “Do not be afraid” Richard whispered. “Remember what we read in that book on wild cats? If you stand perfectly still and look the lion in the eye, it will turn and run.” “Sure, Dad” replied Raymond. “You’ve read the book, and I’ve read the book. But has the lion read the book?”
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us—three times—"Do not be afraid". If we are to be his messengers, we must be courageous. We are challenged by our Lord to bring our faith to the world, to announce it in every sphere of our lives. Jesus however did not hide from us the hardships and dangers we are to face when witnessing to him. The powerful and abusive will intimidate us by enacting a law criminalizing dissent, using criminal-defamation laws to silence criticism, or put anyone of us in jail on fabricated charges. They can do terrible things to those we love, to our hopes and dreams, to our possessions, to our daily lives and careers, and to our persons. Just as he himself was persecuted and rejected, so we will be. But Jesus gives a good reason for not being afraid, because in the end light will conquer darkness—that which is true will conquer that which is false—and true righteousness will be seen for what it is: good and from God. As Jesus said, “for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”
So, go now. Do not be afraid of becoming communicators of truth. Initiate the conversations you know you should have initiated long ago. Stand and speak against misgovernance and moral decay. Shout it from the rooftops. Write it in an email. Post it in Facebook and Twitter. Take the hand of those sitting across from you at the dining room table and tell them the compelling truth that Jesus loves them more than they can imagine. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid.
Heavenly Father, give me strength to be a messenger of truth amidst persecution and rejection. Help me to approach you with confidence that where my sin abounds your grace abounds much more. Dispel my fears and send me to a mission to tell others about you. I also pray for all the wonderful fathers, father figures, and male mentors out there who have touched the lives of people. On the occasion of Father's Day, look in favor on all of them. Bless them with with the power and gifts of your Spirit that they may be strengthened as Christian Fathers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that their children honor them always with a spirit of profound respect. May their wives love them devotedly with tender love. Let them be models of integrity in our society today and be builders of your kingdom of truth, justice and love. May the example of Saint Joseph, guardian of the Holy Family, be their inspiration in their daily life of serving love. Grant this through Christ our Lord. <enrique,ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum