Sunday, June 21, 2020

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Do not Deny Him

Today's readings tell us about having faith and not rejecting Christ.

The first reading tells us of Jeremiah's anxieties and suspicions. The text itself is a foreshadowing of what Jesus would face from His own people, especially the Pharisees. Jeremiah hears the whispers of the doubters. They plan against him and set up ways to make him stumble and look foolish. Jesus faced the same. The Pharisees sought Him, not to hear His wisdom and seek the kingdom, but to set Him up and make Him stumble. This, of course is not possible, but remember, they did not know He was God.

Despite their many attempts, they failed miserably. However, they did take vengeance against Him as today's reading foreshadows. No one can make God stumble. No one can make God look foolish. It is just not possible. God knows all and sees all. He tests the just and probes the mind and heart. We must trust in Him always and entrust our cause, or our life to Him. This is why we praise God and seek Him, even when things seem out of control. God will answer.

Today's responsorial Psalm expounds on this. We ask the Lord to answer us. For His sake, we bear insult and shame. Part of being a Catholic is bearing trials even from within the Church. Being Catholic does not mean all will go well and everyone will get along with you in a parish. You will find some characters which are good and some which are shady; some who are truthful and others who are disingenuous. I myself have faced several, including from among the clergy and religious life. It sometimes makes us feel shameful. However, we must persevere. Even if we become outcast to our brothers, we must fight on because of the zeal for God's house consumes us. This is how one knows God's grace is working heavily in us. When despite all odds, we continue on without being phased. We must take the insults, from those within the Church and those without. I know I always get insulted by atheists and others who blaspheme God. We must offer it up with the sufferings of Christ crucified.  We must pray to God and God will answer. Even when we feel God is not answering, that in itself is an answer. God hears our prayers, especially those of the poor and suffering. He never abandons them. Though things may seem dark at times, God is always there. The second reading reminds us that sin entered the world through one man and because of this, we all must suffer and eventually die. Death came to us all, both physically and spiritually. Baptism removes the Original Sin that caused this, but the effects still remain. Though our spiritual life begins to live and we must nourish it with prayer and the sacraments, our bodies still break down and we still have to face the wrath of nature at times.

This year, we are all facing the alleged Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic. Some have wondered why God did not remove it. Well we know the answer in today's reading. The sin of Adam and Eve tarnished the world. Things are not functioning as they should. Death is now a part of life. That being stated, we are all subject to disease, aging and viruses. God can overrule them, but this will not always happen unless the virus interferes with an immediate part of His plan that must take effect. So in His wisdom, God allows viruses and other things to play out for our salvation. We do not totally understand it now, but will eventually.  Nevertheless, despite this Original Sin bringing all of this hardship and death, Jesus came to bring life. Adam to Moses, David to John the Baptist all died. However, one died and defeated death by rising again. This is Jesus, the gracious gift to the world and to the universe. Jesus is God, the Son of God the Father and second person of the Blessed Trinity. Today's Gospel tells us not to deny Him or He will deny us. Nothing is a secret to God. God knows it all and all will be revealed. Jesus tells us not to be afraid.

This rings strongly today during this alleged pandemic. We cannot fear this virus or anything else even though it kills the body. Instead we must be worried about what kills the soul and body in Gehenna or Hell. God knows us all and knows what we are doing and what we will do.He knows all of our choices and possible combinations of them. Some atheists and philosophers claim this shows that free will does not exist. However the fact that God knows all the possible outcomes does not take away our ability from choosing either one of them freely. We must make our choices wisely so that they benefit our souls. This means acknowledging Jesus before others. We must never be ashamed of Jesus and the Gospel. We must never be ashamed of the Catholic faith. People will mock us, so be it. People will insult us, so be it. People may even physically attack us, so be it.  All is for the Lord and through Him as we united our suffering to Christ on the cross. We acknowledge Jesus before others best when we live the Gospel in complete holiness, not in hypocrisy or mechanically.  May Jesus Christ be praised! 

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