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Scripture Reflection - June 25, 2023

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20: 10-13 | Psalm 69 | Romans 5: 12-15 | Matthew 10: 26-33

Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York Scripture Reflection

In our recent return to Ordinary Time, Matthew takes us inside Jesus’ “training camp” for his hand-selected twelve. Last week Matthew introduced them to us. They are an eclectic group, including blood relatives, a former tax collector, and someone who will go on to betray him. These are the laborers for the harvest, complete with varying gifts and foibles that Jesus challenges himself to form into his trusted base.

In the verses between the readings, Jesus lays out their task in the lectionary this week and last. Jesus replaces his compassion for the crowds to whom they will minister with straight talk. He tells it like it is and does not gloss over the dangers they will encounter. The mission is not for the faint of heart; it will leave them vulnerable to hatred and persecution.

Today we find Jesus instructing and emphasizing to his apostles that they must “stand strong and not be afraid.” The verses subtly underscore the meaning of their role as apostles. Jesus will send these followers to proclaim the coming of the kingdom. They will speak and act not their words but those that come from the mouth of God; words and actions that cannot be suppressed. Jesus talks to them in the language of trust. In the language of our present-day culture, Jesus is saying, “Stay true to me, I’ve got your backs.”

As we fast forward two thousand plus years, we place ourselves in seats as apostles. By nature of our Baptism, like them, we are chosen to be sent. The body of Christ is an eclectic group of workers who face the challenges and dangers created by numerous factions present in our society. While the landscape is different from first century Palestine, the task of proclaiming the kingdom remains a constant, rooted in the just and living Word of God. Like the apostles, we come with our varying gifts and foibles to participate in Jesus’ mission of ministering to and bringing justice to all that is of God’s earth. The words we are called to proclaim are countercultural, often met with resistance and sometimes real danger. Yet we are the trusted base, who, blessed by the Spirit, place our trust in God and receive the empowering words, “Stand strong, do not be afraid” – “Stay true to me, I’ve got your backs”. May we internalize these words as we accept and act upon the mission that has been handed down to us.

Sr. BarbaraAnn Sgro, OP


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