Bear Witness to the Truth: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Prophet Jeremiah

Central idea: Bearing witness to the truth despite opposition. Doctrine: The obligation in justice to bear witness to the truth come what may. Practical application: Bearing witness to the truth.

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Central idea: Bearing witness to the truth despite opposition

Reading 1 Jer 20:10-13

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.
‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him.’
But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
for he has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked!”

  • Because the truth of Jeremiah’s testimony has stung the consciences of his hearers, they are filled with wrath and want to see his downfall.
  • Part of the hurt Jeremiah feels is that they were his friends.
  • Jeremiah’s only defense against them is God at his side.
  • Jeremiah longs to see the downfall of his persecutors and his own vindication.
  • Because human nature does not change, anyone who tries to act justly toward God will face plots and persecutions by God’s enemies.
  • However, Jeremiah’s very understandable response (“let me witness the vengeance you take on them”) is defective in the light of Christ. Our Lord has instructed us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. He has also given us the ability to do so. Even more, he teaches that beatitude can result from evil trials.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:10-12)

Responsorial Psalm Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my children,
Because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.

I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness;
in your great mercy turn toward me.

“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him,
the seas and whatever moves in them!’

  • God is great but we are not. If we give our lives to him, the strong and violent enemies of God may direct their wrath against us. It can seem overwhelming to us and we lose heart. This is why the psalmist and we pour out our hearts asking for God’s consolation and aid in our distress.

Reading 2 Rom 5:12-15

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—
for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world,
though sin is not accounted when there is no law.
But death reigned from Adam to Moses,
even over those who did not sin
after the pattern of the trespass of Adam,
who is the type of the one who was to come.

But the gift is not like the transgression.
For 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.

  • The reason human being hurt one another and are capable of being hurt is because of sin. Sin, suffering, and death entered into human experience by the sin of Adam.
  • But the grace of redemption comes through the New Adam, Jesus Christ.

Alleluia Jn 15:26b, 27a

The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord;
and you also will testify.

  • When we testify to the truth either through our words or our actions, others respond, not just because of our testimony but because the truth also resounds within them. In them, this double testimony arouses either their acceptance or rejection. The rejection of the truth can arouse their wrath.

Gospel Mt 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do 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.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

  • The context of this reading is that when the apostles carry out Christ’s mission to spread the Gospel, it will arouse opposition.
  • Christ instructs them not to be afraid of any man. The most persecutors can do is kill the body; they “cannot kill the soul.”
  • The Father and the Son greatly esteem the apostles and us. This is grounds for courage.
  • We should never be afraid of “acknowledging” Christ “before others,” that is, proclaiming the truth, especially the truth of the Gospel.
  • However, we should be very afraid of denying Christ before others, because that could mean the death of both the body and the soul in hell.

Doctrine: The obligation in justice to bear witness to the truth come what may

  • Just as Christ came into the world to “bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18:37), we too must profess the truth directly and clearly, “without equivocation” (CCC 2471).
  • This witness to the Gospel is borne “in words and deeds.” In addition, “Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known” (CCC 2472).
  • Martyrdom is the supreme witness to the truth. “The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude” (CCC 2473).

Practical application: Bearing witness to the truth

  • It is important that we look at our culture and environment and ask, “Are people demanding that I deny or at least keep silent about some aspect of truth?”
  • Each of us must answer this question ourselves, because the answers may vary very much if we live in the United States, or in the Philippines, or in Uganda, or in Pakistan.
  • It is also important that we discern when we should be silent and when we must speak.
  • We can rely on the grace of Confirmation to strengthen us when God expects us to witness to the truth (CCC 2472).

The Homiletic Directory recommends the following Catechism points and themes for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time:

  • CCC 852: the Spirit of Christ sustains the Christian mission
  • CCC 905: evangelizing by the example of life
  • CCC 1808, 1816: courageous witness of faith overcomes fear and death
  • CCC 2471-2474: bear witness to the truth
  • CCC 359, 402-411, 615: Adam, Original Sin, Christ the New Adam

 

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