12th Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle A–2017

FIRST READING            Jeremiah 20:10-13

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!”

SECOND READING                  Romans 5:12-15

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                Matthew 10:26-33

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.”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

“Fear no one.”  —  The words of Jesus from today’s Gospel according to Saint Matthew are so strong!  “Fear no one.”  We can only be free from fear and from fears if we truly believe in the Lord and live for everlasting life.

The first reading today is from the Prophet Jeremiah.  He had lots of people trying to end his life and to make his life difficult if he lived.  He tells us that even his friends had been working against him.  Yet he knows that God is with him and that he need not fear.  Of course, sometimes his enemies made his life difficult.  So to have God with us is not magic and we can still encounter very difficult situations.  But if our trust is in the Lord, we know that in the end, all shall be well.  That end may be after our death!  But the challenge is simply to cling to the Lord!

The second reading today is from the Letter to the Romans.  This reading tells us that sin has entered the world through one man, Adam, but that through another man, Jesus the Christ, the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.  The message is the same:  sin and evil and bad things will no triumph in the long run.  Rather, God will triumph and will vanquish all sin and evil.  To cling to this promise of the Lord is the challenge of our spiritual life!

Today’s Gospel is from the Gospel of Matthew.  We return to the words of Jesus:  “Fear no one.”  In today’s world, we Christians are more and more likely to encounter problems.  The values of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus and of the Church, are now being spurned in our world and called into question.  If we cling to these teachings and words, we are accused of being people of hate and of promoting “hate speech.”  This condition in our world will most likely only increase.  Christians are already the most persecuted group in the world.

We should not want to abandon our faith in order to avoid being reject, mocked, scorned and judged by others.  Most of us want a simple and quiet life to live in peace.  That simplicity and quietness may well be taken away from us today.  The challenge for us is to hold fast to the words of Jesus:  “Fear no one.”  That also means that we must cling to the teachings of the Lord Jesus without any fear or even without concern for what may happen to our lives.

Let us be ready to walk with the Lord to suffering and death, rejoicing that we are found worthy to suffer for clinging to the words and the teachings of the Lord Jesus.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip