Date: Sunday, June 21, 2020
We may ask: Why is this happening? Why are we going through this? Why is this given to me, to us to endure? These questions have been asked before in every generation. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Jeremiah asks: Why me? He lives during tumultuous times. He senses being called by God in his mother’s womb to be a messenger. Jeremiah pronounces God’s judgment. Jerusalem will fall to the Babylonians. The King, royal court, and priests at the temple refuse to listen to his warnings: “Terror on every side!” They ridicule Jeremiah. He is dumped in a cistern. He is place in stocks. Jeremiah feels duped by God, made a joke and set up to fail but still God’s Word is a fire in his gut. He cannot remain silent. God is his champion. Jeremiah’s lament becomes a psalm of praise: “Sing to the Lord for he has rescued the poor from the power of the wicked.”
Jesus sends the Twelve on a perilous mission fraught with danger and rejection. He bids them be fearless. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Jesus tells his disciples the One to fear is God who can consign them to hell or eternal life. Jesus makes it personal. He tells his disciples to imagine standing before the heavenly Father. If you acknowledge me before others, I will acknowledge you. If you deny knowing me before others, I will deny knowing you. Are we coming to know Jesus and being faithful to the unique mission which God has entrusted to us?
Much is given to us during these difficult times. In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, speaks of hardships and blessings that will come upon his followers -- the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for the sake of righteousness -- for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.