Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33

First Reading: The prophet finds himself in a terrifying situation: he is surrounded by whispered threats and violence, and his friends have become his enemies. But he refuses to be afraid, and instead turns to God. The prophet does not rely on himself for rescue: he trusts to God, who not only will vindicate him in the end, but walks with him even now.

Psalm 69: This psalm is the lament of a person in deadly danger. The danger is not from natural forces, illness, or personal crisis, but from other human beings who attack because this person has remained faithful to God. When the psalmist cries out to God, God listens.

Second Reading: In today’s second reading, Paul continues his reflections on the work of Christ, this time by contrasting that work with the work of Adam. Adam, Paul says, stands at the head of the old creation, and his disobedience to God caused sin to permeate subsequent generations of humankind; in contrast, Christ being the new creation by rescuing us from sin and death.

Gospel: Matthew, in today’s Gospel, collects several of Jesus’ saying and combines them into a single literary unity. The purpose of him doing so is easy to see. Now that Jesus has called his disciples, he addresses what is likely their primary concern: fear.

Reflection: Jesus begins with a bold statement, “Fear no one.” Yet, in the next breath he tells us to “be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body.” Does Jesus contradict himself? No, not really. He is helping us sort out fear. We need to fear when we choose not to live and “speak in the light” and acknowledge Jesus as Lord. We do need to fear when we choose infidelity and denial of Jesus in any form. This kills. This death we ought to fear.

Jesus often said, “Be not afraid.” Jesus wants us to know that God loves us, and when we truly know God loves us, we have nothing to fear! God’s love helps us to feel safe and secure. That’s a good feeling! So, if we ever feel worried about something, we can place our trust in God. When we pray, we can give our fears and worries to God and ask God to take care of it for us. Sometimes things are very hard to understand, and we may see people having problems that seem too big to fix, all we can do is trust that God always wants to bring light to darkness. God always wants goodness to win. God always wants us to feel loved, even in hard times.

We are fearless when we acknowledge God’s Presence and proclaim the Gospel by choosing integrity over dishonesty, by putting others’ good ahead of selfish whims, by uplifting others in our speech rather than tearing them down. We need to be fearful when we don’t think before we act, when we neglect thinking about God every day, when we estrange ourselves from what is right and good, when we turn our backs on Jesus. Which does our daily choosing reveal? Fearless or fearful?

Question for reflection: What helps me in my discipleship to faithfully choose to live and speak “in the light?”

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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