First Reading- Jeremiah 20:10-13 Responsorial Psalm- 69 Second Reading- Romans 5:12-15 Gospel- Matthew 10:26-33
Can you find your voice in times of darkness? Can we overcome our fears of rejection or ridicule by choosing fidelity to the Gospel? These are two questions that arise from today’s readings.
The prophet Jeremiah in the First Reading clearly struggled with peer pressure, feeling watched for missteps by friends, denounced by those in power, and those seeking vengeance on him.
Yet, despite all this he is emphatic that the Lord was with him even to the point of describing the Lord like a mighty champion who would protect and defend Jeremiah. Why? Because Jeremiah knew his motives were just, that his inner most intention was to speak truth to power on behalf of the poor and vulnerable. Above all, Jeremiah believed that only God truly knows our deepest motivations and intentions.
In the Gospel the struggle of one man, Jeremiah, becomes the struggle of the Twelve. Here Jesus is the one to voice to them, “Fear no one.” Three times in this reading Jesus speaks to fear and being afraid. It is not rational or perceived fear he addresses, these are normal human reactions to danger. What Jesus is speaking to is the fear that paralyzes us when we lack faith that God is always with us. It is the fear that inhibits us from speaking a Gospel truth, witnessing to our faith because we are afraid of the consequences. What comes to mind is the tragic events last month in Manchester England. The initial response was fear, yet almost simultaneously there were those who chose to take the risk, to set aside being afraid to comfort and shelter others. People of many faiths spoke out about the need to be present to and for one another, witnessing to the Grace of God in their words and actions while acknowledging the sorrow of the loss of life. In the midst of fear, they found strength.
Some of us may never face our ultimate fear, but all of us experience times of darkness and it is the rare person who doesn’t care what others think. Yet despite our fears and inhibitions we have one source of strength that nothing and no one can diminish. By the grace of Baptism we have the source of all strength…God within! In this day can each of us take the time to thank our Creator for giving us the strength to call forth that which is the reflection of God’s abiding love.
Sister Joan Agro, OP