Russell Pollitt SJ The sexual abuse crisis that rocked the Catholic Church worldwide has been one of the most disillusioning things I have had to face as a priest. It...
THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE [JEREMIAH 20: 10 – 13]
provides us with an excellent return to the so-called ‘ordinary’ Sundays of the year. We are firmly reminded of the fact that we are in it for the long haul.
After the powerful Easter reminders of resurrection, life and the dramatic few years of the developing Church’s foray into the world, we were given clear indications of the basics. First of all there was
PENTECOST with its emphasis that we are a Pentecostal people and Church. Then came TRINITYSunday with its renewed proclamation that our Christian God is both ONE and THREEFOLD – always with us as Creator, Saviour and Sanctifier. Finally, the EUCHARIST of Bread and Wine – food and drink for the day-to-day LIVING of a faithful discipleship. There we were challenged to BREAK the bread and DRINK the wine – and DO this TOGETHER.
We cannot possibly believe that this living will all be plain sailing, some sort of pleasure cruise aboard stabilised luxury liner? As Jeremiah states there will be times when even “my familiar friends watch for my fall.” So we need the today’s reassurance given by the prophet – “the Lord is with me as a dread warrior. … he sees the heart and the mind … to him have I committed my cause.”
Of course this entails three essential attitudes which I have to develop into strong and personal characteristics. Firstly, the daily awareness that I am not alone – “the Lord is with me.” I must not even begin trying to do it on me own.
, it is counterproductive to attempt any ‘hedging of bets’ or compromising on the basics. The Lord “sees the heart and the mind.” Finally, there must be a wholehearted and full commitment to the living of basic Gospel values – “to him I have committed my cause.” This commitment is a daily act of both mind and heart. It is not a one-off decision but a personal, daily, CHOICE of approaching my discipleship in a clear, practical and concrete manner.
In this connection it is helpful to recall some words from
TODAY’S PSALM [69 or 68]. There we are again reminded that sometimes even “to my own kin I have become an outcast, a stranger to the children of my mother.” However, the Psalm also states clearly that “I pray to you … for a time of your favour … your salvation that never fails.” While “I suffer taunts … the God-seeking heart will revive.“
THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 10: 26 – 33]
adds two vital considerations given by Jesus himself. Our extract commences with the challenge that we are to “have no fear of men; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed.” In these few verses we must note that the often repeated scriptural injunction against not being afraid is repeated no less than three times – have no fear … do not fear … fear not. However the Lord also tells us that we should only fear those who are able to destroy our commitment to Gospel values – “rather fear those who can destroy both soul and body.” In addition, the Gospel confirms our enormous value – “the hairs of your head are all numbered … you are of more value than many sparrows.” We have to trust in God’s power. It follows that we should accept that both disciples and discipleship have an enormous value in the eyes of the Father. If we reflect carefully, it will be seen that this whole passage is reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount.
In some real way all that has been said so far can be summarised by something that Saint Paul urges in his First Letter to Timothy – “run the great race of faith and take hold of eternal life. For to this you were called” …
(6: 12). Another translation tells us to fight the good fight and this appears to express the sentiments of our reading from Jeremiah. It is a fight, a battle, but it is a good fight – and we must keep the rules. (see 2 Timothy 2:5)
If we give a wider interpretation to
THIS SUNDAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [ROMANS 12 – 15] we may well begin to recognise the importance and value of our own individual participation in this race and fight. Paul refers to the dramatic difference between Adam and Christ. They were individual persons. One created sin, compromise, evil and darkness. The other, grace, honesty, truth and light. Christ, in his own person and through his own life, made the REAL difference.
I am able to make a difference. You are able to do the same – and the difference we make as individuals can be the difference between death and life. This is a life that can abound for many.
However, to make a difference I must, first of all, make myself different. The making of this difference is the beginning of both race and fight. Do not fear to make yourself different and createa difference.