Friday, 23 June 2017

June 25th 2017. Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL: Matthew 10, 26-33
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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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."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kierans summary . . . The Gospel tells us that the Father will deny us (not recognize us) in heaven if we deny Jesus on earth. This sounds like a moral exhortation to go out and testify to Jesus. But more than a moral exhortation, it is really a diagnosis of the state of our hearts. If we really knew Jesus, if we had truly experienced his love and mercy, if we had felt the tenderness of the Holy Spirit, then we would naturally want to testify to God from the rooftops! If I have not borne witness to Christ, then, instead of feeling guilty about that fact, the more basic issue is to ask myself if I really know Jesus at all. A person who is embarrassed about Christ is someone who does not really know Christ. If I am a poor witness to the Gospel, then the first thing I must do is look inwardly and ask myself if I have truly accepted the Gospel. Once I have contemplated and received the love of God for me, then I will bear witness without any difficulty or embarrassment! The soul that has been inundated with the love of Christ cannot but speak aloud about the love of Christ!

Living the Christian message inevitably involves going against the tide of popularity
The first reading tells of the woes of the prophet Jeremiah. He is derided, ridiculed and jeered from all sides. Why? Because his prophecies make people uncomfortable. Prophecy is a shaft of light that illuminates the darkness of our poorly-founded convictions, and it makes us feel ill at ease. If, as Christians, we find ourselves acclaimed and praised by everyone, then something must be wrong somewhere! It is true that we are called to bring love to the world, not to attack it, but at the same time it is inevitable that the Christian message will be unpopular: it is never popular to go against the mediocrity and the compromises that characterize the ways of the world. The beauty, purity and holiness of the Christian life is not readily palatable to the uninitiated. The sublime nature of the message of Jesus is an uncomfortable challenge to grow.

The true Christian is free from fear of rejection. He does not conceal what he truly believes. All such deceptions will one day be brought to light
The story of Jeremiah’s struggle with rejection by the people and his consolation by God prepares us for the Gospel. The theme of this Gospel is the freedom of the Christian from the fear of rejection by men. If we have this freedom then we are also free from the sort of hypocrisy that prompts us to say one thing though we believe another. In this beautiful passage from Matthew we are told that there is nothing that “is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” In popular thinking, there is the idea that life cannot be deceived - “what goes around, comes around”. The generous providence of God covers many things, but things that are defective sooner or later reveal themselves. If we do not love, then it will one day become clear. If we are not truly reconciled to each other, then the cracks will eventually show. If we leave a deep problem unresolved, then this problem will manifest itself eventually in some other way. It is not that divine providence will unmask us suddenly in a shocking fashion: life itself, being that which is real, confronts the deception and brings it to the surface.

When something makes us joyful, we naturally want to speak aloud about it
“That which is heard in the darkness will be spoken in the light; that which is whispered in the ear will be proclaimed from the rooftops.” There is a call here, certainly, but it is also a natural dynamic that occurs automatically by itself. When a man is very joyful about something, he cannot wait to tell about it; when a woman is happy about a certain event, she look for someone to share the news with. Human beings live for relationships, and relationships make things worthwhile. If something important happens and we have no-one to share it with, then that thing loses depth. It is not that we must have the positive opinion or praise of others in everything we do, but it is the joy of sharing that gives the thing significance.

The text can be read as saying that we have a moral obligation to testify to Jesus. But it is also true that if we really know Jesus then we will naturally want to testify to him from the rooftops
Whoever denies the Lord Jesus is one who very likely never knew him properly to begin with. He may have encountered him, but not on the level of the heart, for whoever loves something is faithful to that thing. Sometimes we speak in “ecclesial” language of the “obligation” to evangelize, to bear witness to Christ. But how can it be an obligation? If one is a true witness, then one naturally bears witness. If one does not bear witness willingly, then maybe he hasn’t experienced something beautiful in the first place. If one doesn’t testify with enthusiasm, then maybe one is not so enamoured with the message. I am faithful to that which I know saves me. I am willing to shout about that which gives joy to my heart. This text can be read in a moralistic way, interpreting it to refer to that which we are obliged to say, or we can read it as a means of diagnosing what is in our hearts. The text tells us that he who does not testify to Jesus in front of men is in turn not recognized by the Father in heaven. But beyond a moralistic exhortation, this also indicates that such a person is not really a son of the Father - he does not stand in the correct relationship to God (if he did, he would naturally want to testify to Jesus in front of men!) It is not that we are suddenly rejected by the Father as a punishment, but it is a simple fact that we cannot be recognized by the Father as one of his children because we have not loved him. We are not accepted by the Father because we have not allowed ourselves to be swept up by him.

If I do not testify to Christ, then the primary issue is not my guilt for my lack of testimony, but my need for renewal so that I will discover the love of Christ for me. Once I experience and welcome that love, then testimony will flow naturally!

He who knows and loves Jesus cannot but speak well of him! He cannot deny him willingly! Once we have been pardoned by the Lord Jesus, how can we ever keep silent of this fact! The man or woman who has encountered the tenderness of this One who has valued us so much - such a person knows his worth in the eyes of the Lord. He knows that he will not be forgotten. Once someone intuits, understands, the passion of Christ for him, the love of the Father for him, the tenderness of the Holy Spirit, how can such a person keep silent? If someone is silent, then that indicates that he has not experienced the love of God, he has not preserved in welcoming and receiving the Lord, he is unconvinced by the Christian message. A person who does not speak willingly of Christ does not know Christ! A person who is embarrassed by Christ is someone who has not met him. He must allow himself to be renewed by a more profound encounter with the Lord. If I do not bear witness to Christ, then rather than feeling guilty about this lack of testimony, I should ask myself, “Have I ever really met the Lord?” A series of embarrassed Christians is simply a series of people who have not really seen the love of Christ, nor have they welcomed it. A soul simply cannot deny love when it has been inundated with love. The essential thing is not so much to question our lack of witness; the more fundamental issue is to look at the kind of truth that we possess inside. Have we or have we not encountered the truth of the love of God for us?

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