12th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)
Witness to the Gospel without fear
1. OPENING PRAYER
a) The text:
26 'So do not be afraid of them. Everything now covered up will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops. 28 'Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. 30 Why, every hair on your head has been counted. 31 So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32 'So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. 33 But the one who disowns me in the presence of human beings, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.
b) A moment of silence:
Let us allow the voice of the Word to resonate within us.
a) Questions for reflection:
There is nothing hidden which will not be revealed: the truth under the veil of silence is spread more than if it is exposed in the avid or greedy hands of men who are deaf to the breath of the Spirit. Where do you place the Word of God that you listen to? In the power of your adventurous thoughts or in the sacrarium of your profound acceptance?
That which I tell you in the dark, tell it in the daylight: Christ speaks in the dark, in the secret of the heart. To offer his words to the light, these must go though your thought, within your feelings, in your entrails before they come to your lips. The words which you habitually say to others are they words said in the secret of Him or rather syllables of thoughts which just come to mind?
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body: nothing nor nobody can do you harm if God is with you. They can make you a prisoner, but they cannot take away liberty and dignity from you because these are unseizable by anybody. Fears, worry, suspicions, anxieties... can become a souvenir which is far away. When will you leave all this aside, trusting that God will not abandon you ever and will take care of you?
Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. God’s Providence can be similar to destiny, but it is something different. Sparrows which fall to the ground. It is not God who throws them down, but when they fall the Father is there. It is not God who sends sickness, but when man becomes ill, the Father is there with him. Our things belong to him. Solitude, which frequently presses on us is not abandonment. Will we look around to encounter the eyes of Christ who lives with us in that moment of desolation?
If anyone declares himself to be for me in the presence of human beings, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father: Give Christ the courage of our faith in him... this is a requirement of life in which God is not an accessory, but daily bread and the identity card of himself. Does this challenge you or does it remain only a hidden desire? Even among the heads or leaders, says John, many believed in him, but did not recognize him openly because of the Pharisees, so as not to be expelled from the Synagogue. Would you risk your name for him?
b) Key for the reading:
Do not fear! This is a key word which, repeated three times, gives
unity to the passage.
v. 26. Do not be afraid of them, for everything now covered up will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. That which is covered is not reserved for few but it is simply kept waiting that it be manifested. There is a time to keep hidden and a time to make manifest, as Qohelet would say... to know how to keep the truth in the secret of the days that go by: this is what forges the credibility of the manifestation. A seed cannot be thrown into the air, it is put into the furrow of the heart, it is left to itself while it is transformed in dying, and it is attentively followed until it germinates and comes to light, until the spike will be ripe and ready to be harvested. Every word of God requires that it passes through the furrow of one’s own history in order to bear abundant fruit in due time.
v. 27. What I say to you in the dark, tell it in the daylight, and what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops. Jesus speaks in secret, we speak in the light. God speaks, we listen and we become his mouth for others. The darkness of the listening, of putting it in, of assimilation, precede the dawn of every proclamation. And when from the housetops the good news will be heard, men will be obliged to look up. A treasure of glory is enclosed in every moment of listening, it is a moment of waiting which prepares to the birth of light.
v. 28. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. One can be afraid of those who can strike that which is not man in fullness: to stop earthly life is not equal to death. The only really fearful is God. But God also after death preserves the life for man, that is why we should not fear. Whatever can happen, God is with man. This is a certainty which permits us to sail on even in the midst of the most devastating storms, because the treasures of man are taken care of in God, and from the hands of God nobody can snatch the elect.
v. 29. Can you not buy two sparrow for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Two sparrows, one penny. A minimum value but which is in the thought of the Father. Where life beats, there God is, completely. This attentive care enchants and consoles... and invites to listen to all that vibrates and presents holy images of the Eternal splendour. Two sparrows: two very small creatures, of a brief life. The value of things is not given to them because of the greatness or the strength, but from that which animates, that which is “body”. Therefore, every space where there is life which accepts the print of the Creator is a place of encounter with Him, it witnesses of his solicitude.
v. 30. Why every hair on your head has been counted. The solicitude or thoughtfulness of God extends itself even to count the hair on our head. It is absurd, the way the Lord loves! When desolation and abandonment become the word s of our today, it will be enough to count some of our hair to remember the presence of God with us. The protection of the Heavenly Father will not be lacking for the disciples of Jesus. The Mystery which embraces all cannot be less towards those who have chosen to follow His Son, leaving the earth of their human securities.
v. 31. So there is no need to be afraid ; you are worth more than many sparrows! If God uses his thought for two sparrows how much more will he not think of us! Fear disappears before this living image of human and religious sensibility of Christ. God is in favour of man, not against him. And if he keeps silence it is not because of lack of care, but because his thoughts on us have broader perspectives which go beyond the horizons of earthly temporality.
v. 32. If anyone declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in Heaven. To acknowledge oneself. When you find yourself in a square crowded to the full among unknown faces, you have the experience of being a foreigner. But as soon as you see a familiar face, your heart expands and you make your way until you get close to him. This recognizing others allows to manifest oneself before others and to expose oneself. Christ in the midst of the crowd is the familiar face to recognize him as the Master and Lord of our life. And what fear can we have if we think that he will declare us before his Father in Heaven?
v. 33. But the one who disowns me in the presence of human beings, I will disown in the presence of my Father in Heaven. Could we think of a revengeful God? this is not a discourse to “put wood into the fire”, but a discourse which comes from an existential encounter. Christ will not be able to recognize as his own the one who will have chosen everything outside of him, it is a discourse of fidelity and of respect for the human liberty. God respects the creature to the point of not interfering in the space of his error. The Gospel demands belonging, not words and actions. The heart lives in heaven, when Christ is its beating of life!
4. PRAYER (Psalm 22,22-31)
I shall proclaim your name to my brothers,
For he has not despised nor disregarded
Of you is my praise in the thronged assembly,
The whole wide world will remember
And those who are dead,
Lord, among the veils of what I have received and have not given, may I be able to meditate and to accept everything from you. Let not my proclamation be an unconscious repeater, but rather a word possessed in so far as it has indwelling and digested for a long time. May the beauty of your presence be unveiled to my senses, and in the mystery of your unceasing giving may the veil of the encounter descend bringing you closer. The treasure hidden for centuries is now known, and from darkness to light, the dawn has raised for centuries, in a day without sunset which, shining on that which love has created and the sin being broken, it makes all things new. I will recognize you, my God, before my brothers because it will be impossible for me to hide the lamp that you have lit in my life. Who will give me the words which create me and make of my limitations a marvellous definition of that which I am, I, in particular, like nobody else? Only you, Lord have words of eternal life. And I will eat them and will offer them, at the cost of being devoured with them. It will be sufficient for me to feel that I am a sparrow to find again the hope when the tempest will fall on me, because the pennies that you give for the sparrows are not counted in your knapsack. Amen.
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