Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
DO NOT BE AFRAID
Jer. 20:10-13, Rm 5:12-15, Mt. 10:26-33
Dear friends, on this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scripture, all of us are reminded yet again to put our complete trust and faith in God, and give our best to serve Him for if we are truly faithful to Him, then we have nothing to fear in this world, and we have no need to be worried about. God has always been with us and He will never abandon us to the darkness.In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, the part in which he lamented about the treatment he received from many of those who rejected him and refused to listen to him. The prophet Jeremiah laboured hard for many years in the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem, and yet, for all those years as he spoke to the people of God’s words and warned them of their upcoming doom if they continued to disobey God, his words went unheeded and many opposed him and his works.
And they treated him so badly that Jeremiah almost lost his life on few occasions. When his enemies plotted against him and threw him into a drainage sewer to die, it was only by the help of his few friends and the cooperation of the king that prevented him from being killed. There were indeed so many occasions in which Jeremiah had to suffer and endure all sorts of trials and indignities, humiliation and discomfort. Yet, Jeremiah trusted in the Lord and committed himself wholeheartedly in Him, and God protected him and was with him throughout the mission and journey.In today’s Gospel,Jesus tells his disciples not to let fear intimidate them but to place their trust in God. Jeremiah is a wonderful example of someone who acts on this Word of Jesus.
In the second reading St. Paul contrasts Adam to Christ. St. Paul contrasts Adam (the cause of sin) to Christ (the cause of grace). Whereas the universality of sin springs from the disobedience of Adam, the abundance of grace flows from Christ. Sin is unleashed in the world through Adam. Sin is manifest in the greed and self-centeredness that prevail in our world today. But the grace that comes to us in the sacraments and in other ways is, of course, greater than the sin we have to deal with.
Jesus is well aware of the many challenges that will face all who choose to follow him in faith and preach in his name. A little earlier he says: “I am sending you like sheep among wolves”. Jesus gives an exhortation that will be recalled by the Church when facing persecution: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”God has sent us His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour and to be the source of all hope and strength for each and every one of us. We must not lose sight of this hope and light that we have received from God, and we must trust that God will always protect us and provide us no matter what, and no matter how difficult and challenging the situation may be for us.
By His most loving, selfless and perfect sacrifice on the Cross, our Lord Jesus Christ has delivered us from certain destruction due to our sins. As mentioned, the disobedience of Adam brought sin into the world, as disobedience against God led to sin, and sin brought about our sundering and separation from God, and separation from God led us to death. Yet, the Lord loved each and every one of us so much that He has given us His Son, to suffer for us and to die for us that by His suffering and death, we may live.What does this mean for us? It means that as we face many challenges in the world today, we must remain positive and hopeful. We have to be the source of hope and beacons of light in the darkness and we must not give in to despair, just as even the prophet Jeremiah did not give up despite all that he had to suffer and endure, all the years of trials and persecutions.
We have definitely suffered in one way or another during this difficult and uncertain time, and we must also have known those who have lost their jobs, their sources of income, and worse still, having lost their loved ones, our own loved ones and those who are known to us due to the terrible impact of this still ongoing and raging coronavirus pandemic. Many among us then also worry or fear for our own future when we see our once seemingly secure and stable income collapsed and disappeared without much notice.
That is why during these difficult and challenging times, all the more that we all need to refocus our attention on God and put Him at the very centre of our lives and existence. Unless we put God at the centre of our lives, it will be easy for us to lose our way, to be swayed and tempted, to be turned into slaves of our own desire and our own fears and insecurities, as the events unfolding in the past few weeks and months had shown us.
As Christians therefore we are challenged to be bringers of God’s hope and light into the midst of our communities, to our families and among all those whom we know and encounter in life.
Fr. Pascal, OFM
Izmir, 01 June 2020
Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church
Dear priests, religious, consecrated and faithful all of the diocese of Smyrna,
I am sure that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on each of you and on your families. It has opened the doors of the apartments where you are locked up because of the pandemic. Above all, it has opened the doors of your heart, giving everyone new courage, new hope and new joy.
United spiritually to Mary and the apostles in prayer in the Upper Room, we confidently invoked the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised. And the Holy Spirit has also descended on us and our families. An impetuous wind that has canceled our fears. The tongues of fire that filled us with the love of the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit has certainly helped you to draw many positive lessons from the drama of the corona virus. For example, the rediscovery in the calm and silence of values that perhaps we had put in the background, taken from the many things to do. The importance of family affections, in particular towards our elderly and sick people. The importance of having deeper relationships with the people who live around us and maybe we said goodbye quickly by rushing to work or thinking only about our things. We realized how fragile and vulnerable we are. We cannot live without Someone, God, who gives true meaning to our existence. The news reports tell us about the number of infected people and the dead. Politicians speak above all of the gravity of the economic crisis and the importance of restarting the production system. Few speak of the crisis of moral values and the need to rediscover the spiritual dimension of man. Man is not God. He is a fragile creature who finds himself lost and disoriented in the moment of trial, suffering and above all when he is helpless in the face of the reality of death.
Dear brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit will continue to illuminate us Christians so that we can be witnesses to the presence of God and his merciful love. The fire tongue of the Holy Spirit has descended on each of us. And then we became strong and courageous men. We are like living gospels that others can read clearly and open up to the light of the Lord Jesus, who died and rose for us.
Dear brothers and sisters. On the conclusion of the third session of Second Vatican Council in 21th November 1964, St. Pope Paul VI has declared Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church”. It means Mother of all Christians.
Pope Francis, established in 2018 that there was a liturgical celebration of Mary, Mother of the Church, on the Monday after Pentecost.
Mary was at the foot of the cross at the moment of Jesus' death. Jesus entrusted the apostle John to her. John represented the Church, that is, all of us. Mary was among the apostles gathered in prayer in the upper room to invoke the Holy Spirit. It is natural then that the Mother of Jesus is invoked as the Mother of the Church.
The day after Pentecost, a liturgical time called "ordinary time" begins. It is the time when we are called to make the central mysteries of our faith concrete in daily life. We must live our faith every day in the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Easter season ends with Pentecost.
With the light and strength of the Holy Spirit and with the certainty of the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church, we can now give new impetus to our Christian life, proved by the experience of isolation caused by the danger of contagion of the virus.
The Holy Spirit supports us in the life of prayer. It gives us joy to constantly resume participation in church at Sunday mass.
We hope to meet again on June 14th to celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord together. The Risen Lord is present in the midst of the community gathered in his name. The Lord makes us a gift of his Word and above all renews on the altar the Eucharistic sacrifice that reconciles us with God and with the brothers. We can then turn to God by calling him "Father". In communion, the Lord Jesus enters our life to make it similar to his. He then sends us as announcers and witnesses of his love and salvation.
Dear brothers and sisters. We will soon be able to reopen the churches. The Lord invites us all. Knock on the door of our heart. He wants to get intimate with us. He only wants our good, the good of our families and our Christian community. We must resume our life of faith with new impetus and serve the Lord and our brothers with generosity and joy.
Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church is among us and unites us in her love .