June 25, 2017
“Terror on every side!” These are the words the prophet Jeremiah uses to describe his situation of adversity. They seem sadly contemporary. Every day we hear news of reports about the atrocities carried out by ISIS -- indiscriminate attacks against all humanity and civilization. This past week ISIS destroyed an historic mosque. How would I respond to the threat of looming death? Would I confess my faith in Jesus or take an oath to utter barbarity to save my life?
“Do not be afraid.” Jesus is sending his disciples on mission assuring them of God’s providence along the way: food, clothing, shelter and welcome. God who cares for a little sparrow will certainly be mindful of our bodily needs. But when disciples announce what Jesus has shared with them, i.e. the Kingdom of Heaven, they will face hostility that imperils their bodily existence. Denial of knowing Jesus in the face of such suffering will threaten their soul. “Gehenna” is both a place southwest of Jerusalem (a garbage dump) and an image of eternal loss.
Peter, after the garden arrest of the master, denies knowing Jesus 3X. He weeps bitterly aware of what he has lost by trying to save his neck. Repentant, Peter will see the loving gaze of the Risen Lord and enjoy God’s mercy. Jesus admonishes his disciples to “fear no one” but there is a "holy fear" for us of Jesus saying before his heavenly Father: “I do not know you.”
Today in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus encourages his followers to trust in God’s providence; to announce the Reign of God; and to fear no one who rejects the Gospel. Jesus promises to be with us during times of hardship and rejection. St. Paul writes to the Corinthians about the grace of God and the precious gift of Jesus Christ that overflows for the many. May God give us the courage to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior. There is light in the midst of darkness. There is hope in the midst of suffering.
Most Holy Trinity
14th Sunday Ordinary