Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A


Robert P. Hagan, O.S.A. 
Villanova University
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Jer 20:10-13
Ps 69:8-10,14,17,33-35
Rom 5:12-15
Matt 10:26-33

We can take inspiration from our Holy Father Saint Augustine when he exhorted his community: “You say the times are troublesome, the times are burdensome, the times are miserable. Live rightly and you will change the times…Change human beings and the times will be changed.”

As we find ourselves battling the deadly viruses of Covid-19, racism, and all of life’s burdens in our times, as many of the familiar rhythms of life have changed or been cancelled or postponed, there is a common feeling of angst, restlessness, and uncertainty that surrounds all of us.

There has been much recent focus on those things that separate us…skin color…party line…gender…orientation…economics. Matthew’s gospel this week highlights a few things that we all have in common, and one of them is FEAR! Raise your hand if you have never been afraid? It is part of the human condition. Fear shows up in many ways, at various times in all our lives. Fear of failure…fear of the future…fear of change…fear of death…fear for no apparent reason! Fear affects all of us and it can be paralyzing and directly impact our thoughts, words, actions relationships, our life, our world.

The word “gospel” literally means ‘good news” and once again Jesus offers us exactly what we need in these times… in our times! Three times in this short passage, Jesus encourages his disciples, and us, NOT to be afraid. As messengers of the king, they will surely encounter setbacks, obstacles, uncertainty and suffering, but know that what “I have handed onto you will enable you to speak and act boldly in the face of adversity.”

“Do not fear for your mortal life…the Lord will protect and defend your life for eternity.” As God cares for sparrows, surely, he will care for you!

Last week on the feast of Corpus Christi we were reminded how God provides our daily bread and assures us of the strength and nourishment we need for the long haul from this world to the next.

As messengers of the Lord, we are well equipped for this journey. Yes, the journey is uncertain and maybe more challenging now than ever. We all have our list of worries, fears, and concerns:

What will this year be like? Will school ever feel like “normal”? Will there be peace in our world…in our country…in our streets? Will I ever be able to hug a friend or say goodbye to a loved one without passing on or receiving something deadly. Listen to Jesus who overcame the most brutal suffering to show us that love is the way.

With love there is no fear. Jesus reminds us all to listen to HIM before we speak…before we act. To take direction from Him before we act. Then go boldly out and help your fellow brothers and sisters…. black, white, rich poor, all those with whom we may differ. Jesus is reminding us that there is indeed something else we all have in common: LOVE. “Love your God with your whole heart mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.”

When we strive to do that each day, we have nothing to fear. It has been said that FEAR can stand for one of two things. Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Recover! Let us face our fears together. There is only one way to face everything, and that is by faith in Jesus Christ. We can struggle on our own strength or we can remember to turn to the Lord for the wisdom and strength to stand up and handle whatever it is with courage. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Ps. 24:4)

On this Father’s Day weekend, we thank God for those in our life who have encouraged us to live boldly and help others along the way. We are grateful for those who instill courage and help to remove our fear. We thank God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the grace, the strength, and the love that has been passed on to us. Confident and unafraid let us go forth working for peace and respect for all people. When we open up our hearts and minds to all that has been passed on to us from God, and fearlessly, hand it to all of our sisters and brothers, the times will be changed!