Jeremiah said: “I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side! Denounce! 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!”
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—for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass 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 grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 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 of them 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.”
Today the first reading and the Gospel speak to us about proclaiming the Word of God to others and what that might mean in our own lives. So often we think that the obligation of talking about God is an obligation of the priests and of no one else. But once we start reading the Bible, we should realize that anyone who hears God’s Word then has a real obligation to proclaim that Word to others.
Jeremiah is a wonderful example of this. In the Old Testament, he a prophet who suffers very much—and he has a lot of thoughts and feelings about his sufferings. In the small section of his writings that we listen to today, we hear him speaking about how all of his friends have now become people who watch him to see if he will make any mistakes.
Probably most of us have never had an experience in which ALL of our friends have abandoned us and ALL of our friends are watching to see if we shall make a mistake. On the other hand, this situation came about in the life of Jeremiah because of his dedication to preaching the Word of God that had come to him. We can ask ourselves today if we ever speak about our religious beliefs to others. Probably we are uneasy about speaking about these beliefs because we know that the area of belief is an easy topic over which we can fight with others.
Certainly the Bible is not telling us to go out and pick fights with others. On the other hand, our ancestors felt so strongly about their faith that they were will to stand up and proclaim it and they were willing to suffer and to die for it.
The Gospel is telling us the same message about our belief in the Lord Jesus: be strong, be confident and proclaim aloud what you believe. We Christians today are often so timid about stating our beliefs. Even more so are we Catholics, who at times would rather not speak up at all. Sometimes it is because we don’t really accept what the Church teaches. If that is the case, we need to look again at our beliefs. As Catholics we believe that Christ is truly present in the Church and truly present in the teaching authority of the Church.
Always it is difficult to hear someone say about the United States: love her or leave her. And it is difficult to hear someone say this to us about the Church as well. On the other hand, we need to be honest enough in the long run to recognize that if we are going to be Catholics, we need to accept all the teachings of the Church—and we need to be able to embrace those teachings as a way of wisdom in our lives.
So today we might pray for a deepening of our faith. We can pray that we will accept all the teachings of our Church. And we can pray for the strength, wisdom and knowledge to proclaim those teachings with all our heart.