READINGS AND REFLECTION
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 21, 2020
Jeremiah 20:10-13 – He has delivered the soul of the needy from the hands of evil men
I hear so many disparaging me,
‘“Terror from every side!”
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’
All those who used to be my friends watched for my downfall,
‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error.
Then we will master him and take our revenge!’
But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero;
my opponents will stumble, mastered,
confounded by their failure;
everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.
But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice, who scrutinise the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
Sing to the Lord,
praise the Lord,
for he has delivered the soul of the needy from the hands of evil men.
Romans 5:12-15 – The gift considerably outweighed the fall
SIN entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. Sin existed in the world long before the Law was given. There was no law and so no one could be accused of the sin of ‘law-breaking’, yet death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even though their sin, unlike that of Adam, was not a matter of breaking a law.
Adam prefigured the One to come, but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift.
Matthew 10:26-33 – Do not be afraid of those who kill the body
JESUS instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.
‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.
‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’
THE central Mystery of our salvation is the death and resurrection of Christ, the Paschal Mystery. Every Sunday is Easter, every day is a celebration of and an immersion into the Paschal Mystery. On this 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we have earnestly entered into the time of discipleship, when we are trained by the Master to follow Him, to take up the cross, and attend glory with Him, to take part in His Paschal Mystery.
All the three readings today have a Lenten/Passion flavour, of vindication through faithful suffering for God. Jeremiah is prominent in the readings on Passion Sunday and Good Friday. The second reading from Romans 5:12-15 in fact is read on the First Sunday in Lent. The basic message/lesson to the disciple is clear: There is no success without faithfulness through grave sufferings; no cross, no resurrection. The disciple is not to fool himself that following the Master is an easy and tranquil life, rather, to bear the yoke and the burden, which would become “easy” and “light” if it is done in union with Him. (Mt. 11:30, Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus).
The Christian people have always looked at the prophet Jeremiah as the outstanding model of a Suffering and Faithful Servant of God. He was the leading and highly respected prophet at a critical time in Jerusalem when the country was threatened with destruction by the invading Babylonians in the 6th Century BC. When Jerusalem itself was already under siege, he continued to proclaim that salvation laid in faithfulness and dependence on God, rather than on political and military strength and alliances with other nations. His loud prophesying had a very discouraging influence on the morale of the king and his troops desperately defending the city. Politically and militarily, Jeremiah was in the wrong camp. Against this background, “MANY were disparaging me”, “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!… Then we will master him and take our revenge!’
Undisturbed by Persecution
As a faithful spokesman of God, Jeremiah remained undisturbed by the widespread persecution and betrayal against him even by all “those who used to be my friends (who) watched for my downfall”. He knew he was sincere in his faithful service to God who “scrutinise the loins and heart”. He knew God would vindicate him. History tells us that Jeremiah, after the fall of Jerusalem, was well treated and lived in exile and continued to prophesy and encourage his exiled people to return to God who would bring them home from the Babylonian exile.
St. Paul in the second reading digs into the root cause of destruction and death, sin – the first Adam and his descendants’ proud rebellion against God, wanting to be God themselves, and to rely on their own judgement and strength. Jesus Christ, who in submission and obedient to His Father unto death, reversed this rebellion against God, destroyed sin. He is the New Adam, the Redeemer of new humanity.
The Lord Jesus in the gospel says that the truth on the issue of faithfulness and vindication, now hidden, will be fully revealed (by his resurrection): “For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops”. We have just completed Easter Time three weeks ago. “The Lord is Risen!” has been proclaimed not in whispers but from the housetops. Every disciple must proclaim and acknowledge the resurrection of the Lord.
‘You are Worth More Than a Hundred Sparrows’
The Lord also lays down the ultimate reason why we should be confident in being faithful and would never be disappointed. We belong to God who loves and esteems each of His own. Everyone is precious to Him. He will faithfully and jealously protect His own. “Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.”
As we continue to walk the arduous journey of discipleship with the Master, let’s confidently toughen up, and not be disturbed or dismayed when crosses come our way. We are worth more than hundreds of sparrows. And that’s preciously the reason why the Father wants us to grow in faithfulness, purified by suffering, following the Way of His Beloved Son.
By the Way, it’s Fathers’ Day today. Happy Fathers’ Day to all our fathers!
May our fathers be brave and head their families of disciples in the homes!