Got Enemies?

Sunday June 21,2020 Twelfth Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

The tie in between today’s readings: Everybody Must Get Stoned

Psalm 69:8-17;33-35, Jeremiah 20:10-13, Romans 5:12-15, Matthew 10:26-33

Our reading in Romans 5:12-15 takes us back to the Garden where our deceived parents eat the forbidden fruit in their pursuit to be like God. Their original sin has been infused into each of us to this very day. I used to think that God was being quite unfair by saddling me with their transgression. After all, what did I have to do with it? But now, I believe that if I, or anyone of us, was placed in that situation, then I would have done the same thing. If not, then the all-knowing infinite God made a terrible mistake by not putting any of the morally superior among us in their place and so avoid this whole original sin thing altogether. To sum it up, we are sinners by nature and by choice. The good news is that our loving Father did not leave us to suffer the consequences of our fate. The Lord paid the ultimate price to redeem a fallen humanity back to Himself. Now, who could have a problem with that? Well, a lot of people as we shall see when we explore the rest of today’s readings. It seems that when you take a stand for God, you inevitably step on somebody’s foot.

The prophets always face persecution when they deliver bad news to an unreceptive audience. It’s especially true in our reading today in Jeremiah 20:10. Many of his messages were of doom and gloom. So much so, he earned the sarcastic nickname “Terror on every side” and these were his friends! Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, pleaded with his countrymen to avoid God’s judgement on their nation and themselves by confronting, confessing, and forsaking their sins. Few heeded his call. Not willing to believe or to change, many searched for ways to shut him up. Just like the Pharisees with Jesus hundreds of years later, they scrutinized for flaws in his conduct and hunted for contradictions in his message. All to discredit his predictions and if they could get rid of him altogether, so much the better. In cases like this, apparently, it is OK to shoot the messenger.

Let’s say that you prefer to steer clear of the conflict that a call to repentance creates. You’d rather let your faith shine by your actions. Even then, you face the conditions that plagued the writer of Psalm 69. The more piously he lived for God, the louder his life shouted against those who didn’t care so much about the Almighty. Without a word, he was an attack on their guilty consciences. He was the “goody-two-shoes” of the family and they give him grief over it. He went to the temple often and was criticized for “actually believing that stuff!” When he fasted and prayed, he was called a fanatic. They saw his repentance over personal sin as taking it all a bit too far. He was that ridiculous religious odd ball that everybody smirked and laughed at whenever he walked by…and this is King David we’re talking about. Just as an aside, Psalm 69 is a Messianic Psalm and we can apply this to what Jesus’s life was like growing up. They had to bear these circumstances, if we’re serious about a Godly life…we should expect it too.

So how do you cope with it all? First, you must accept the trials. What good is faith if you can’t test it? God will bring these adversities into your life to deepen your walk with Him (Jeremiah 20:12). Secondly, forget them. You are on God’s team. Keep praying! Stay faithful! God will deliver you from your distress (Psalm 69:13). Our third point comes out of our gospel today in Matthew 10:26-33. Proceed confidently. No Fear! The Father who loves you knows everything. He didn’t take you this far to drop you now. The God that’s got your back will bring you to His heaven in triumph and balance the scales of injustices against you. So, go forward in living your life for God in word and deed. Be bold. Be brave. Be loving. Stay standing for Jesus. In the end, in His kingdom, He will take His stand for you.

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