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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 12th (A) in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Jer 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!».
Responsorial Psalm: 68
R/. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my children, because zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.

I pray to you, o Lord, for the time of your favor, o God! In your great kindness answer me with your constant help. Answer me, o Lord, for bounteous is your kindness; in your great mercy turn toward me.

«See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive! For the Lord hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not. Let the heavens and the earth praise him, the seas and whatever moves in them!
2nd Reading (Rom 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.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 15:26b.27a): Alleluia. The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord; and you also will testify. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 10,26-33): Jesus said to his apostles: «Do not be afraid. There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops.

»Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather be afraid of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. For only a few cents you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted.

»So do not be afraid: you are worth much more than many sparrows. Whoever acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Whoever rejects me before others I will reject before my Father in heaven».

«Do not be afraid of those who kill the body»

Fr, Antoni POU OSB Monk of Montserrat (Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, after choosing the Twelve Apostles, Jesus sends them out to preach and He instructs them. He warns them against persecutions they are likely to suffer, and gives them some advice regarding what their attitude should be: «Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather be afraid of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell» (Mt 10:28). This Sunday introduction develops the subject of the persecution of Christ in a style reminding us of the last part of the Sermon of the Mount Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:11).

Jesus' discourse is paradoxical: on one hand He says twice «do not be afraid», and He introduces us to a providential Father that even takes care of small birds; but, on the other hand, He does not mention whether this same Father will protect us from these setbacks; rather, He points out that if we follow him, we are bound to experience the same fate that befell over him and all the other prophets. How can we, therefore, understand this protection under God? God's protection is God's capability of life-giving for us (our soul), while rendering us happy even under persecutions and tribulations. He is who grants us the joy of his Kingdom, that stems from a profound life we can already enjoy here, and is our guarantee of eternal life: «Whoever acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven» (Mt 10:32).

The conviction that in the difficult moments of our life God is on our side, will supply us the needed courage to proclaim Jesus' words from the housetops (cf Mt 10:27), and furnish us too with the energy we require to do good, so that, through our deeds, people may glorify our Father in Heaven. St. Anselm teaches us: «Do everything for God and for that happy and eternal life our Saviour deigns to grant us in Heaven».