A Cycle – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time 17

ear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. Do not be afraid…” (Mt. 10:26-28)

Are we afraid or are we just complacent because our faith has never really been challenged?  What secret are we hiding that will ultimately be known by others?  What revelations are going to be made to us that have not been made to us already?  What is Jesus telling us today?

God’s words to us today are calling us to a response as he opens his heart to us.  In order for us to respond we must hear more than just the eight verses we have just heard.  In this section of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has just gathered his disciples and has given them his power to proclaim the good news, to heal the sick, to set the captives free and to call those who will respond to change their lives.  This task of proclaiming the kingdom was not restricted to the isciples but is the mission of every person who believes – that means you.

Jesus had been teaching them and revealing to them the depth of God’s love for every person but how it is God’s will that all be saved and that none should perish.  He has been “opening the scriptures” for them so they understand the promises of God to restore us to righteousness and gift us will all we need to live according to his will and help others to discover these spiritual truths.

They, even if they felt were uncertain and felt inadequate, were prepared to fulfill the mission for which they were being sent. They had more than knowledge which in itself will never be enough to convince anyone of God’s love; they had the power of the Holy Spirit and their message was made powerful because of their belief and trust in God.  Yet you will also see that no matter how much we believe there is in each of us a fear or uncertainty that God will not show up when we are challenged.  That is why the words of today’s gospel should make us stop and reflect on how bold is our witness to God’s love and the gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The final words in today’s gospel should cause us to stop and think about how we live, speak, act or otherwise live our lives each and every day.  “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”  We do not deny him but we do avoid the opportunity to stand up and boldly let others know our faith in God is more important to us than our job, our friendship and our fear of rocking the boat by challenging others as they mock believers.

If you have been listening to me over the 19 plus years of my preaching or if you are a newcomer to my homilies you have come to realize I follow a web site that deals with how we who believe are being forced into silence.  Christianity is being attacked daily and we in America are unaware of it or just do not care it is happening.  We are lucky our faith is only attacked by laws and regulations or by threats of job loss and by being ostracized by family or friends or social groups.  There are many worldwide who are facing death because they dare to acknowledge they believe in Jesus Christ.

If you acknowledge me I will acknowledge you.  How much clearer do we need Jesus to speak to us?  Oh we do acknowledge him each time we come to church.  Oh we do acknowledge him each time we go serve at the food kitchen.  Oh we do acknowledge him each time we say or prayers or read the bible.  But do we acknowledge him when we have the opportunity to confront someone who is ridiculing our belief in Jesus Christ.  Do we acknowledge him when we have the opportunity to work for Christian unity instead of adopting an attitude implying our faith is superior to theirs?  Do we know their hearts and do we have the right to judge their faith?  Beyond that do we understand the scriptures demand from us who say we believe to “consider all as superior to ourselves.”

We have to stand up and be vocal and risk everything to stand for our faith in Jesus Christ.  Keith Medlin did that when this month when he lost his job as the Superintendent of the Willard, Missouri School District because he led a prayer for those parents who wished to pray over their children during their high school graduation.  Moriah Bridges as her graduating class president was forced by the Beaver, Pa. School Superintendent to remove references to her own faith from her speech to the class.  We may not be in their situation but we do have a chance to stand up for our belief in Jesus Christ every time we are in a conversation where the faith of others is attacked.

We have a chance to give witness every time someone asks us to pray for them.  Instead of saying ok we should take the time to pray then – in the store, on the sidewalk, on the phone, in the park or on a plane just hold their hands and pray. We have a chance every time we eat a meal to pray over our meal even if the meal is a business meal or with a group of people we have just met.  Instead of reading a magazine at the doctor’s office how about bringing your bible and reading it. How about making it clear to your friends, family or social group how your faith is central to who you are just as Moriah Bridges intended to do with an audience of school administrators, parents and friends of the graduates present.  I am certain she was aware that the possibility of censorship by those in charge.  I am also certain that her friends, her acquaintances and her teachers already knew how her faith was central to her.

What about you?  Do you know what Jesus demands of us who believe – acknowledging him before others demonstrates our belief in a way that leaves no doubt we love God with all our heart, mind, strength and soul.

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