“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven” (Mt 10:32)

by Shiu Lan
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:10-13

Romans 5:12-15

Matthew 10:26-33

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we hear Jesus’ reassuring and comforting words to the twelve apostles as He sends them on their evangelical mission, “… do not be afraid”, “every hair of your head has been counted” (Mt 10:31, 30). They need reassurance because the mission to which they are sent is not an easy one. “[They] will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of [Jesus], and so [they] may witness to them and the pagans” (Mt 10:18). But they do not have to worry about what to say for “it is not [they] who will speak” but “the Spirit of [their] Father in [them]” (Mt 10:20).

The apostles have been Jesus’ followers for quite a while, they have seen first-hand how Jesus preaches the Word of God and proclaims the good news “The kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt 10:7), as he heals the sick, brings the dead back to life, cleanses the lepers and drives out demons (Ref Mt 10:8). Now Jesus wants them to put into practice what they have learned while warning them of the danger that they will face. He is sending them out like “sheep among wolves”; there are those “who can destroy both soul and body in hell” but “whoever stands firm to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:16, 28, 22).

What is the relevance of Jesus’ teaching to us? We may not necessarily take on an evangelization role in our church community, yet we all have an inherent role to preach and teach the Word of God to our family, workplace, circle of friends, and community either directly or through our words and deeds as a person of good Catholic faith. Jesus sums up in the last two verses of this Sunday’s gospel reading how we will be judged eventually: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Whoever rejects me before others I will deny before my Father in heaven” (Mt 10:32-33). This is Jesus’ staunch reminder to us that to acknowledge Him in this world is also a matter of life or death – eternal glory versus eternal condemnation.

Lately, it is quite disturbing and heart-breaking to come across videos on the internet that attack our Christian faith, the Church and even the Holy Father. They have an extremely high viewership. They are probably made by cunning imposters who want to destroy our soul. We are indeed among wolves as Jesus predicted so we must strive to be “clever as snakes” to see through the surface of what they are spreading (Mt 10:16). We must be critical lest we fall into the trap that what they allege or pretend to preach is true. For us to acknowledge Jesus in this somewhat divisive world, where the line between right or wrong and true or false is often sadly blurred, let us be fearless and look up to Jesus who is fortifying us with the same reassuring and comforting words he has for his apostles, “… do not be afraid” (Mt 10:31). Jesus promises his apostles that when they give witness, the Spirit of the Father in them will speak; surely the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth will enable us to acknowledge Jesus properly as well (Ref Mt 10:20).