Readings: Jeremiah 20: 10-13; Psalm 69, Response: Lord, in your great love, answer me.; Romans 5: 12-15; Gospel – Matthew 10: 26-33
It is quite timely that the Gospel readings today and next Sunday focus on Jesus sending out his disciples and giving them instructions on how to carry out the mission.
Then there is a nice “pivot” prayer and assurance to his followers the next Sunday, after which Jesus talks about the Kingdom and our readiness to accept it for the succeeding three Sundays. He gives the vision of the Kingdom, which his disciples are to help build and to which we are invited to.
Allow me to invite you on a journey these next six Sundays and to reflect on our own mission in a new world we are to build emerging from the crisis of this pandemic—a renewed mission to build the new heaven and the new earth.
There are three themes I invite you to reflect on from this Sunday’s Gospel. The first is to be fearless as a messenger of God. The second is to listen to be a good messenger. The third is the courage that comes from fidelity.
“Fear no one,” Jesus tells his disciples as he sends them out. It is the fearlessness that comes from being in the right, to be rooted and grounded in the truth which comes from God.
One of the root words of truth is the ancient English word “troth,” a loyal and faithful pledge or promise. In Filipino, the word for truth is “katotohanan,” which connotes fidelity (“katapatan”), and can be closely associated to “katoto,” a friend, a comrade.
Fidelity to the truth thus is fidelity to God. To be truthful is living out our loyalty to God, living in friendship with God.
Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J. used to tell us when we were seminarians that people come to us because of our friendship with the Lord. I think not just seminarians or priests, but all men and women of goodwill attract others and one another because of our friendship with the Lord.
Becoming friends in the Lord, as what Jesuits often refer to, as well as all Christians, we are a community of friends in the Lord. This is the source of our fearlessness.
As St. Paul writes: “If God is for us, who can be against us? What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 31-39)
This is a fearlessness that is not aggressive nor arrogant, but one that stands humbly before God to listen to him, to know him and his will. It is only through this that we are able to truly proclaim him and his truth to others.
Our friendship with God starts with and is nurtured by our listening to him and knowing him. to “be still and know [he is] God.” (Psalm 46: 10) In Fr. Pedro Arrupe’s wise counsel, “Learn to waste time with God.”
Spending time with God
When we were seminarians, novices, actually, and were “locked up” for two years with minimal contact with the “outside world,” our novice master often described this period of our formation as the time to nurture our “familiaritas con Deo,” our familiarity with God.
St. Ignatius referred to the final year of formation for the Jesuit as the “schola affectus,” the school of the heart when one “can engender in them greater humility … greater knowledge and love of God our Lord: that when [one has] made greater progress [one] can better help others to progress for glory to God our Lord.”
It is with a listening heart that one deepens one’s fidelity to the truth and to God.
The third and final point is a natural consequence of fidelity and listening, the courage to live a life witnessing to our relationship with God. If we are faithful to God, we will experience his fidelity to us in a greater way, since he is always faithful to us. If we love God, we will experience his love for us with greater intensity.
Truly, these are the messengers, the missionaries we are called to be and what the world needs now as we build the new heavens and the new earth.
We still live in the time of pandemic, but we are free to choose to emerge from the crises it has created—the crises that fostered many evils and are fostered by those who choose to continue to do evil.
The greatest of these evils is to neglect the cry and sufferings of the poor who are many and in great need of the bare essentials in this time and beyond. We fall into this when we choose to put our narrow and selfish interests first, when we see evil and choose to do nothing.
Let this Sunday renew our call and our “yes” to be messengers of God’s good news, to live our life in mission fearlessly, a fearlessness that comes from the humility to listen to and to know God.
A life of mission that is always a life of gratitude is, in the words of the Eucharistic Prayer II, “giving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you.” This the life of a Christian. —CONTRIBUTED