Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time-A
For those of us who grew up in America, we have lived a pretty pampered life when it comes to our faith. Sure, we may have some inkling about Christian persecution by recalling the early Christians who were killed by wild beasts in the forums of Rome or those brave souls burned at the stake who would not denounce their Christianity. However, that was many years in the past. If we were a little more informed about current world events, we might remember the blatant attacks on Christians under the Marxist regimes in Europe and China. But for the most part, those affronts to our brothers and sisters in faith are so distant that they have had relatively no impact on the way we live out our Christianity. That was then; this is now.
The signs of Christian persecution have landed on our doorstep and have already affected the lives of some of our brothers and sisters in faith. Recent reports of the FBI targeting Pro-life Catholics and Traditional Latin Mass attendees have been reported. They are sure signs that the faith proclaimed by those disciples through their example is a targeted persecution meant to stifle the Christian message in a now secular country. Less prominent, but still an attack, is the weight of government, corporations, and professional sports teams perpetuating the lie that gender is fluid and can be changed on a whim. Those who disagree are labeled as haters, bigots, and racists. Even religious conscientious objections to a vaccine created with aborted fetal parts were met with cancellation, extensively ending the careers and livelihoods of many. Indeed, strong resistance to the truth of God is now in each believer’s backyard. All these efforts are meant to silence you and accept the new order completely devoid of God and his truths. For the disciple, silence and capitulation are not an option. A Christian’s only choice is to proclaim the Gospel more boldly than ever.
The classic battle between good and evil is played out in every generation, and the prophet Jerimiah shared our fears while proclaiming the word of God to his contemporaries. “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.” The faithful prophet is reassured that he is not alone in his struggle and that God is with 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.”
Jesus also aware of the of harm his disciples might face by proclaiming his Father’s will to the world first assured his disciples to fear no one. Although the quote is longer than we usually are accustomed to, it is important to read and perhaps reread it. Jesus says, “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 the Father’s knowledge. Even all of the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
When Jesus instructed his Apostles, he knew some would give their life for the Gospel, but he also knew many later would face similar opposition to the truth. The words from the readings for today’s liturgy are not some obscure spiritual passages from the past but rather words of promise that strikes deep into the hearts of faithful disciples who refuse to accept the present moral state of affairs.
Through our baptism, we have all been called to proclaim the Words of God and not cower in the shadows. With that comes risk, but the risk is what it means to be a Christian. God will provide for our well-being in ways we can never imagine, as he did in the past. But first, we must all be committed to proclaiming the truth in what we say and how we live, no matter what obstacles we face.
Remember, “You are worth more than the many sparrows.”