June 25, 2023 — Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
JER 20:10-13; PS 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35; ROM 5:12-15; MT 10:26-33
Today’s readings call us to tackle the challenging issues of fear and trust — two concepts on opposite sides of the same coin. They must be confronted and dealt with by all of us who wish to live the stewardship way of life.
In our first reading, from Jeremiah, the prophet expresses sentiments we have all felt at some point in our lives, when he says, “I hear the whispering of many: ‘Terror on every side!’” Perhaps this “whispering” comes from the culture that insists we must think of ourselves, our own interests, our financial comfort first — only when we are certain that our own needs are met can we think of serving God and sharing with others.
Perhaps when we consider stepping out of our comfort zones, the fear-inducing whispers come from within us — “you’re too weak, too selfish, too broken to really live as Christ’s disciple.”
Yet, just when Jeremiah is nearly overcome with fear, he remembers the truth, and it is just as true for us today. “The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion.” Of course!
St. Paul reminds us in our second reading, from the letter to the Romans, just how amazing this Mighty Champion is. “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.” In other words, the safest and sanest move we can make is to put all our trust in the Lord who is so good to us, this God who cannot be outdone in generosity.
Even so, the Lord knows that facing down our fears and choosing to trust Him with all areas of our lives is an ongoing challenge for us. He is generous with reassurances to us throughout the Scriptures. Today’s Gospel passage from Matthew is a case in point. In the span of eight verses, Jesus addresses the topic of fear four times.
— “Fear no one.”
— “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.”
— “So do not be afraid.”
And the reassurance continues. “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.” Notice that Jesus says, “your Father” in describing God’s intimate knowledge and tender care for each one of us. He is truly “Abba,” our Dad, Who knows us inside and out. In fact, this intimate knowledge and tender care are precisely why He reassures us over and over again not to fear, but to trust in Him.
With that, let us all breathe a huge sigh of relief. All is well. Our Father knows us through and through, sent His Son to save us, and will always take care of us.
Let’s stop wasting any more time with fear. Instead, let’s put all our energy, all our time, our talents and our treasure into trusting this great God, and using all that we are and all that He has given us to bring Him glory.