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.
Fear no one. This seems to be the clear theme for us to meditate this week. The first reading, from the Prophet Jeremiah, says this: The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. This is the response of Jeremiah to the fear that his persecutors were trying to put in him.
Why would we fear? For Jeremiah, his enemies were trying to destroy him physically. Many of us do not have that kind of situation. Some of us do face enemies of that type. Many who follow Christ today are in danger of their lives. For them, the words of Jeremiah have a special ring of truth.
For us who live in peace and developed countries, the danger is spiritual: the enemies of our soul! This is a more subtle danger. The dangers here are immense. It is so easy to accept the comfortable values of our present societies. We can understand why some have thought that God is only a mental construct for the poor and the needy, who need an idea like God to keep them happy.
When we have everything that we need, then we do not need God. When we look at our world today, we see that the richer nations believe less. We must be careful not to generalize, but that surely looks like the trend.
Jesus is so clear in the Gospel from Matthew: do not fear those who can kill the body. Fear those who can destroy the soul. We who are wealthy stand in great danger of losing our souls. We are always invited to disbelief in God. We are invited to pursue the pleasures of this world as though the pleasures are God. We are told over and over again that we cannot be happy without the pleasures and the material goods of this world.
Jesus preaches a very different Gospel. Jesus tells us that real happiness comes from belief in God, from seeking the will of the Father, from giving to others, from sharing what we have with those who do not have, from respect for marriage, from praying and from forgiving. Jesus does not invite us to have absolutely nothing—but always the challenge is there: What are you doing with what you have? Are you loving God and loving one another? What are you doing in your daily life? Are you seeking only your own pleasures or are you seeking the Kingdom of God?
So often we long for material pleasures and the delights of this world! Jesus invites us to recognize that there is another world in which the values do not exclude pleasure and delight, but in which other values are much more important. When one persons sins, others are encouraged to sin. When one person chooses to live according to the will of God, others can begin to grasp that there is another world. Jesus had a remarkable gift of convincing others of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is God, of course, but He invites us also to share His life and share that gift of convincing others of the Kingdom of God by our manner of living.
May we love the Lord our God and may the way we live show forth clearly that the Kingdom of Heaven is in our midst. May we live now in such a way that gives testimony to the love of God and to life everlasting. May we have no fear!