St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Parish

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 June 25, 2107

Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” Jeremiah’s words in the First Reading (Jer 20:10) remind us that the privilege of serving God comes with a price. God’s message is a challenge to our world, and we the messengers are likely to suffer if we are faithful to its service. Calling God’s people and the world to faithfulness and justice is no easy path.   Today’s liturgy, though, is a comfort for fear. Jesus assures us in the Gospel, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. …So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28, 31). With such a God, we dare to proclaim what we have heard and learn. It is our faithfulness to the Gospel message and our courage in its service that will be the final measure of our salvation. The task laid upon us is difficult, but the promise is great. We must be confident to cry out: “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, For he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.” (Jer 20:13). We Christians are all called to the spirit of the evangelical counsels, for we must all become detached from wealth, pleasure, power, and honour. They don’t matter at the end of the day. Only God matters. 

           The current TV drama we are watching is about a young man trying to do things according to his conscience, even risks his life to act against the current. He is labelled dumb, stupid, foolish, who does not know how to enjoy power, wealth, and pleasure as his brother does. He is framed for wrongdoings by those supposedly his friends to cover their evil deeds. Similarly, through baptism we are called to be witnesses to Christ.  It takes tremendous courage to do so. We might be called dumb, stupid and foolish in following Christ’s teachings. We risk being seriously hurt by the most influential people we might know.  Standing for the Lord, being His witness, will trigger the worst in those who cannot fathom why we should be serious in allowing God to determine our lives, allowing righteousness and justice to dictate our behaviour. Sure, even some of us may go to Church and give lip service to our faith, but when it comes to living that faith, it’s a different story. Some cannot stand a person who refuses to join their immoral lifestyle.  The person who does not sleep around, get drunk or stoned, who is faithful to marriage, who does an honest day’s work, etc etc is an abomination to those who engage in some if not all of these.  So, what happens?  The Christ witness will be denounced.

            So many of us go through life afraid of living, fear we may be labelled stone-aged and at the same time worried we aren’t good enough to please God. Jeremiah said the Lord is protecting us.  Jesus also said in today’s Gospel, “Fear no one.”  So, proclaim from the housetops what you have heard.  Don’t be concerned with those who can destroy your body, but not your soul.  Do not be concerned if people call you names because you have the courage to live your faith.  Don’t be concerned if people make stories up about you because what they really want to do is deflect attention away from their own shortcomings.  Instead, recognize this, when we stand with God we stand with the Victor.  Jesus Christ will win the battle. After all, our battle as witnesses is His battle.  God is aware of the times we say, “No, that’s wrong.” or simply, “No, that’s not my style.” God is aware of the times that we stay away from certain people or certain places. He is also aware of how we are treated by some when we give witness to His Presence. We are worth more than many sparrows. Our Heavenly Father cares for us.  His Son loves us.  His Spirit fills us.  Sure, it is a normal reaction to be concerned with what others are saying about us.  Sure, we are afraid of being the butt of other people’s jokes.  We hate being mocked. But we have to recognize that good is always going to be opposed by evil. We should not be afraid.  When we stand up for that which is right and true, the Lord will win the battles for us.  Maybe we might not get that promotion we want.  Maybe we are not enjoying the wealth and pleasure many people have. Maybe we are not part of the in-crowd.  But it is infinitely better to be part of the in-heaven crowd than the in-crowd on earth. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s knowledge.  God is aware of our commitment to His Life.  He is aware that we are His Witnesses.  All we need to do is to proclaim the truth of the Lord and let God do the rest.

God of life, take away our fear. Help us to know and believe how much you love and care for us being your disciples.   Amen.

-Deacon Raymond Chan