The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 21, 2020 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
 Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

Today’s readings speak of the world’s antagonism toward God and his kingdom. Tribulations assail Christ’s faithful. Still, we must not be afraid. The Lord is with us. Today’s Word of God encourages us to proclaim Christ boldly.

We live in a world where Christianity seems to be supplanted, where the dominant mentality rejects the Christian vision of human life. Human plans appear to have superseded God’s plans for creation. The most basic truths of our faith, for example, that God is the Creator and creates us as male and female, are rejected. To choose whether to be a man or woman is not an option. We do not merely have a body but we are our body and believe in our bodily resurrection.

We are called to evangelize in a post-Christian world, where persecution is increasing. Even so, Jesus says in the Gospel: “Fear no one” (Mt 10:26).

Today’s first reading tells us that the prophet Jeremiah was persecuted in Jerusalem. People did not want to hear the truth: “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’” (Jer 20:10). Despite this, Jeremiah is not afraid: “But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph” (Jer 20:11). The certainty that the Lord is with us conquers all our fears. As Saint John says in his first letter, “the victory that conquers the world is our faith” (1 Jn 5:4).

There is a great temptation to modify the gospel in order to appease the dominant culture. Many Christian communities are falling into this trap.

Our Lord urges us to be bold: “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops” (Mt 10:27).

Today’s psalm says: “For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother's children” (Ps 69). When we are true witnesses of the gospel, we inevitably endure persecution. We may be ignored, rejected, hated, mocked, beaten or even killed. However, Jesus says: “[D]o 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 in Gehenna” (Mt 10:28).

The world rejects God but nevertheless needs him.  People are disoriented, suffering spiritually and searching for meaning. Our godless civilization is a fatherless orphan.

How does God view our generation? We find the answer in the Gospel: “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned” (Mt 9:36).

Although distraught by the direction our society is taking, we love people and want everyone to be saved, to be happy and to encounter Christ. In today’s second reading, Saint Paul says: “[…] 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” (Rm 5:15).

May the certainty that the Lord is with us conquer all our fears and help us fulfill our mission in the world.  Amen.