The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Jer 20:10-13 + Rom 5:12-15 + Mt 10:26-33
June 25, 2017
“‘What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.’”
Martyrdom can take many forms, and can have many victims. Often, the truth is martyred. But more often throughout the Church’s history, members of the Church have accepted martyrdom in witness to the truth.
Yet people can be martyred in different ways. The martyrdom of the first centuries of the Church was a clear one. It was a distinct sign of willingness to suffer for the sake of the truth.
In our day, God at times asks us to endure a different form of martyrdom. He asks faithful Catholics, the members of His Church, to stand on guard constantly, not knowing when truth is going to be attacked. Have you ever been surprised by something you suddenly came across in the newspaper, or on television, where someone is taking the truth and twisting it? Have you ever heard the topic of the Church brought up in conversation, only to be dismissed with laughs and sneers?
Throughout the Gospel, you don’t hear Jesus talk much about the devil. Even when He was tempted by Satan in the desert, Jesus did not go after Satan. Jesus simply fought against the temptations that Satan placed before him. When Satan was through trying to tempt Him and fled the desert, Jesus did not give chase. Jesus simply continued His fasting and prayer.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says that what we receive in church in private, we must be willing to speak in public. When we hear someone putting down the Church, we ourselves are being put down. When the Body of Christ is persecuted and her teachings are ridiculed, we must speak out.
How are we supposed to do that? Sometimes, just speaking out, and saying that a remark is offensive is enough to make someone realize what he’s doing. At other times, we may be challenged to defend what the Church teaches. That demands that we have an understanding of the Faith. We can feel overwhelmed by this demand. But it’s helpful to keep in mind that there hasn’t been a saint in the history of the Church who has completely understood the Faith. At the end of his life, Saint Thomas Aquinas, who is arguably the greatest teacher of the Faith in the Church’s history, had a vision of God. After this vision, St. Thomas declared that all that he had written throughout his life—which is an awful lot—was like straw compared to what he had seen in this vision.
Nonetheless, despite our limits, we have to be willing to go out on a limb, and explain what we do know. Over time, we must be willing to learn more than what we know now. We might learn more about the Faith by reading, or watching television shows that accurately teach the Faith, or simply holding a conversation with Catholics wiser than ourselves, or praying for our parish priests during the week as they prepare their Sunday homilies.
Of course, the greatest resource we have at our disposal is God the Holy Spirit. It was through Baptism that each of us first received the Holy Spirit, and those of us who have been confirmed have received the fullness of the Spirit’s seven gifts. At times, we might need to pray quickly, “Holy Spirit, guide me.” We can always call upon the strength, the wisdom, and the courage that the Lord and giver of Life offers us.