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

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:10-13

Jeremiah said: "I hear the whisperings of many: 'Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!' All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. 'Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.' But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. O LORD of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!"

Romans 5:12-15

Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned— for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come. But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.

Matthew 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve: "Fear 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. And 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. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 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."

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).

Posted: June 21, 2020

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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