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06/25/17 Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

Today’s readings remind us that no matter how in the dark, surrounded, or outnumbered we feel in the face of evil, death, and sin, the Father will stand with us if we stand with him and his Son.

In today’s First Reading Jeremiah describes his former friends conspiring against him, but also his confidence that with the Lord at his side all their scheming would fail. Jeremiah had most of the ruling class of Israel against him as the Lord’s prophet because they didn’t like what the Lord was trying to tell them. Imagine when your friends and countrymen seek your downfall more than your companionship, even when you have their best interest in mind. They have their eyes on Jeremiah, waiting for him to slip up, and that is their mistake. If they’d kept their eyes on the Lord, as Jeremiah did, they would have been spared their fate. Instead, they suffered death or exile at the hands of the Babylonians, and Jeremiah was vindicated.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that even though sin had a head start and plenty of time to spread it was nothing compared to the grace that would flow from one man standing up to it: Our Lord. Because of Adam, the “one man” mentioned at the start of today’s Second Reading, sin and death entered the world and spread to everyone, everywhere, throughout human history. The dire effects of that Original Sin still rage unchecked in many ways, and no one has a problem seeing the evil that plagues the world even today. It became so bad that it was not even recognized as sin at one point, until the Lord, through Moses, shared the Law (built upon the Ten Commandments) to show mankind how they could turn from sin and back to God and tell good from evil again. Even with the Law as a blueprint for life death still ravaged the world due to sin. Adam could have never made amends for the evil and death he’d caused. The Father did not leave him, or us, to our fate. He sent his Son, who wiped away the sins of the world in Baptism and brought the grace of God to us again.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds the Apostles that they only need to stand with him and not be afraid. If we stand with Christ bodily death should not frighten us, because, like him, eternal life awaits us. The only fear we should have is spiritual death: a life separated from him and separated from the Father, which makes life a living death from here to eternity. Trust in Our Lord should embolden us, more than evil and disbelief in the world should intimidate us. We all have moments where we question whether the Lord really knows what is going on or truly cares about what will happen to us. His son is the response to those doubts. He came to show us how precious we are in his eyes and the eyes of Our Heavenly Father. He’s also our lifeline to the Father. St. Paul reminds us today that the grace we need comes through him, and that grace not only sustains us in communion with him but with the Father as well. We stand with the Father by standing with Christ, just as we fall if we don’t.

Any coach of any sport involving a ball will tell you the importance of keeping your eyes on the ball. The ball is the center of attention for spectator, offense, and defense alike. The whole game revolves around it. If you get distracted by the weather, by the behemoth looming over you on defense, by the score, or any number of secondary factors, you’re that much more likely to lose the game. We run the same risk when we take our eyes off Christ and worry about how little we know, how weak we feel, how intimidating evil seems, how insurmountable the odds.

Our Lord is clear in today’s Gospel that those who acknowledge him before the world will be acknowledged by him before Our Heavenly Father. That’s an invitation for each of us to ask when was the last time we shouted anything from the rooftops or even raised our voice regarding our faith. In some countries, Christians are dying bodily because they want to acknowledge Christ before the world, but their souls are soaring to Heaven as true martyrs. In other countries that pride themselves on freedom of religion and expression, Christians are simply cowed by the ridicule they’d experience in the public square for raising their voice. Once you lower your voice regarding your faith you’ll soon find that as you lose your outdoor voice, you’ll lose your indoor voice too: it doesn’t just stop in the public square, or your doorstep. Soon you don’t even talk about the faith with your family and friends. Let’s turn up the volume again this week on our faith.

 

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