JESUS COUNSELS US TO BE STRONG-WILLED, PRUDENT, PERSEVERING AND FILLED WITH FAITH
(A biblical refection on THE 12th ORDINARY SUNDAY (YEAR A) – 25 June 2017)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:26-33
First Reading: Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalms: Psalm 69:8-10,14,7,33-35; Second Reading: Romans 5:12-15
“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the house-tops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows. So every time who acknowledges Me before men, I also acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:26-33)
Jeremiah was a very unhappy and persecuted man, as the book of Scripture which bears his name tells us. Although he desperately tried to do what was right – and precisely because he did – he was denounced, gossiped about and tormented. His condemners constantly tried to maneuver him into a trap.
Many people today suffer the same fate as Jeremiah, especially those with public responsibilities. They are often the objects of vicious attacks and merciless gossiping. These are the odious tactics of small, vicious people too stupid and cowardly to face their supposed opponents and voice their objections in person.
If a person is continually subjected to harassments it can cause them to become bitter and filled with hate. When we meet a disgusted person with a negative attitude about most things, very likely they have been fashioned by someone’s viciousness.
Contrast the reading from Jeremiah with that from the Gospel of Matthew. Here we encounter a bright and cheerful mood, with optimistic thoughts and feelings. Jesus says: “Do not let men intimidate you.” The Lord promoted long ago the type positive thinking which is so common in our time. We have numerous books, tapes and lectures available today, presented by dynamic achievers who want to convey to others their secrets of success. They say that attitude is the most important factor in determining our degree of happiness and success.
If we have a poor and negative attitude toward our jobs, other people and life in general, then we are prone to failure On the other hand, if we exhibit a positive, strong and aggressive attitude toward our tasks, then we will succeed.
The Lord’s insistence that others not intimidate us is so very current and correct. Why should others be permitted to put us down and make us feel inferior? No one is sin-proof and no one lives a life without making poor judgments and other mistakes. Remembering that we are as good as the next person (and especially that God has told us that we are personally worth more than a flock of sparrows) should help us to raise our self-esteem if it has fallen.
Someone has said that it is our attitude rather than our aptitude which will determine our altitude. Jesus counsels us to be strong-willed, prudent, persevering and filled with faith. If God loves His created birds so much that not one will fall without His consent, then we should rejoice that He loves us “more than a whole flock of sparrows.”
When we have to contend with the whisperings and gossip which surely will come our way, we need not be defeated, for the Lord commands us to be unintimidated. Regardless of the evil forces which pull us down, His graces are far stronger to lift us up.
(Adapted from Rev. James McKarns, GO TELL EVERYONE, pages 60-61)
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for Your counseling us to be strong-willed, prudent, persevering and filled with faith. Amen.
Jakarta, 24 June 2017
A Christian Pilgrim