June 25, 2017
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
[Jesus said to the Twelve:] 26 "Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 27 What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. 30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32 Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. 33 But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.
Within Matthew’s gospel there are five major discourses. One of these deals with the mission of Jesus and the disciples. (Matt 10:1-42) The first eight verses of that first discourse would have normally been read last week. However, because we celebrated the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the readings for that feast were used instead. Those eight verses deal with the naming and sending of the twelve. Matthew continues with Jesus telling the disciples how they are to travel. While acknowledging the danger involved in being sent to the towns and villages, he asks them to rely on the Jewish code of hospitality for strangers. Therefore, they are not to take money or provisions for themselves, and they are to stay at only one person’s house for the duration of their visit in any particular town. (Matt 10:9-15) Also they need to be prepared for rejection and persecution. Jesus assures them that even if others reject them, God will still be with them. He concludes by saying that a slave is not greater than the master. This seems to imply that if He, their master, has been sent out by His Father and faced rejection and harsh treatment, they should expect the same mission and possible mistreatment. (Matt 10:16-25)
This leads into our text for this Sunday, where Jesus instructs them not to be afraid. The direct exhortation to fear no one may suggest that, for the faith-filled disciple, fear should be non-existent. However, in verse 28 Jesus seems to acknowledge the fear the disciples might have as they face the difficulties of proclaiming what they have been taught. Jesus does not suggest that they should not be afraid of anything. Rather, he tells them that their real fear should be of God, who has the ability to bring upon them much greater pain than physical pain--the eternal pain of life without God. That would be worse than any physical suffering they might have to endure.
Jesus then uses two images to reassure the disciples of God’s intimate concern for each of them. God’s awareness of each of the numerous sparrows and countless hairs is a reminder to the disciples that even though they may feel abandoned or forgotten by God in difficult times, this is not so. God is acutely aware of each of them. The hairs of one’s head are beyond being counted; yet God knows each of these. Therefore it would be a serious mistake to give in to one’s doubts and turn from God.
1. When in your life have you experienced fear? How did that affect your relationship with God?
2. Do you ever whisper when you talk with friends? Can you remember a time when you shouted so that the whole world could hear you? What was the source of both types of experiences?
3. What has your relationship with God taught you about God that you would like to proclaim from the housetops?
4. Can you imagine a God who knows every hair on your head? What image would you use to express God’s closeness or awareness of you?
5. Do you have aspects about your private life that you deliberately do not speak about to anyone?
6. Can you talk openly with God about those areas of your life?
7. Can you take time now to talk to God openly about the things that you fear most?
On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel and reflection questions for the upcoming Sunday are posted at the following link: http://il-ritiro.org/gospel-reflections.aspx. You are invited to share your own reflection and comments with others at this website.
The reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel.
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Excerpts from the Readings for June 25, 2017, the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah said: "I hear the whisperings of many: 'Terror on every side! Let us denounce him!'
All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
'Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.'
But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O Lord of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart,
let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!"
Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my children,
Because zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
I pray to you, O Lord, for the time of your favor!
In your great kindness answer me with your help; in your great mercy turn toward me.
"See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the Lord hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him, the seas and whatever moves in them!''
Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.
Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin
after the pattern of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.
But the gift is not like the transgression.
For if by the transgression of the one the many died,
how much more did the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.
Jesus said to the Twelve: "Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one falls to the ground
without your Father's knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father."
Excerpts from Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33