The 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Jer 20: 10 – 13; Ps 69; Rom 5: 12 – 15; Matthew 10: 26 – 33)
To those who encountered Jesus, He was a mystery – His words, His actions, His very presence pointed to something more and it was beyond the grasp of His own disciples as well as the Jewish leaders and the crowds that followed Him. They said of Him, “No one has ever spoken as this man!”
So the questioning; “Tell us who you are. Where do you come from? From where these powers?” Jesus does say, “I can only do what I see the Father doing. I can only say what I hear the Father saying.” And this only added to the mystery. Who He is is beyond our comprehension – God and Man – but not beyond our faith. His words surely cause us to think, to ponder prayerfully because He is our Lord and teacher, the Word Incarnate.
In today’s Gospel in various ways, Jesus is touching upon and emphasizing the providence of God, in particular His loving attention to each of us. He said, “ Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. You are worth more than many sparrows!”
“ You are worth more than many sparrows!” Jesus’ statement invites us into His Gospel – not just to sit and listen to what we have heard so often before – but by our reﬂection – whatever that might be – to draw us into conversation with Him – to engage us so that we truly listen and allow, more than allow – seek His living Word – the Word that brings peace, healing, consolation, encouragement to our hearts and who of us does not need or desire such grace?
Jesus is addressing something that affects all people and that is our worth, our personal esteem or lack of it – how do I see myself – how does God see me! For many – life is a bondage – a prison of feeling worthless, a failure, unloved, unwanted – perhaps from mistakes, poor choices – perhaps from poor treatment by others, unrelenting criticism, unreal expectations – and one lives, rather exists, with a merciless tyrant within. It can also be that for whatever reason we make unreasonable demands upon ourselves because we
think we should, a person can desire a life of perfection which is really impossible – hence discouragement, moodiness, even despair – we can become our own jailer, a jailer ever present and ever demanding.
I recall a conversation I had with a student – a young man who was an athlete and a good one. The conversation went something like this: Father, I hate when we lose a game because losing is no fun but it also means that when I get home my father will go over the whole game rubbing my nose in the loss. It is as if the whole world depended on the game and I feel his love for me depends on how I produce, how I bring acclaim to him – devastating words: I feel his love for me depends on how I produce, how I bring acclaim to him.
Not so, not so with our God – again and again in this Gospel – Jesus is speaking loudly and clearly – you are of inﬁnite worth in My eyes and My eyes see perfectly, clearly, with no prejudice. In listening we can hear the Lord proclaiming between the lines, “You never have to prove yourself to Me, your worth is beyond measure by the fact that you are; You have my love from the moment of conception and nothing can separate you from My love
– you might try to distance yourself but I am not a distant god – rather I am the “I AM” – ever present, ever loving here and now.
As Catholics we are extravagantly graced with living proof of the Lord’s unrelenting, precious love – “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!” And so called, we approach and we take into our persons the One whose love becomes tangible, becomes sacred food and drink – the living Word, an infallible word to each: “My love for you never fails!”