PREPARING FOR THE WORD
Before you begin take a moment to pray, saying this short prayer by St. John Chrysostom or a prayer in your own words asking the Lord to open up your heart and mind to his Word.
O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart, that I may hear Your word and understand and do Your will.
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."
For all of the readings for Sunday visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062517.cfm
REFLECTING ON THE WORD
Jesus' teaching in the Gospel calls us to trust His word and have total confidence in his love. Jesus is calling his disciples and all Christians to a courageous trust, a trust willing to go so far as to proclaim Jesus' teachings “from the housetops!” We are called to share the whole of God’s word into the field of the whole world. I am reminded of Jesus final teaching in Matthew’s Gospel in which Jesus says to his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
One of my spiritual mentors, Dr. Dale Bruner, wrote, “There is no word in the world like the Word of Jesus. Disciples are to appreciate this and to give themselves to the thrilling task of understanding and explaining Jesus’ entire teaching.”
If this seems like a big task, it is! However, it is a task and calling of every Christian. God’s grace is sufficient! Each of us is called to read God’s Word, grow in our understanding of the teachings of Jesus and His Church and be willing to share God’s truth with others. Each of us is called to grow not only in our knowledge, but also in our willingness to share our personal encounters with Jesus. In speaking of the call to Missionary Discipleship which is the new evangelization, Pope Frances states, “The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization…Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus…All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives. In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without him; what you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and given you hope, is what you also need to communicate to others.”
What often hinders us from speaking the truth to others is FEAR - fear of rejection, fear of what others will think, and fear of failure. Yet, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid”! “Do not fear those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.” In other words, do not let fear stop you from sharing the truth of Jesus love and teachings. If fear is going to be a factor, Jesus invites us to fear God, the one who has power over body and soul, and the one who loves us more than we can possibly imagine.
Jesus’ invitation to fear God must be seen in the light of His brief parable of the sparrow. Since God’s eyes, provision, and love are on the sparrow, how much more does God love and care for us! Once we begin to embrace the dynamic, unconditional height and breadth of God’s love, the fear of God melts away and we fall into God’s loving embrace. Jesus says, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18).
Please do not underestimate Jesus' teaching on the sparrow, “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.”
Every time I hear about God’s love for the sparrow I am reminded of an encounter my dad shared with me. He was at the helm of a sailboat during an overnight sailboat race. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, the cockpit filled with light. Startled by the invasion of light, my dad’s eyes were drawn to the railing where a small sparrow was perched. Deep in his heart he heard God say, “As my eyes are on the sparrow, so my eyes are on you.” The light suddenly vanished, but my dad’s heart was never the same again! This mysterious encounter was a pure gift to my dad! How different our lives could be, if we truly and sincerely embraced the truth of God’s love for us – a truth Jesus came to reveal to you and me!
Too often we live as if we are unloved. Living unloved hinders us from embracing God’s truth and leads us to fear.
May we have the courage and the grace to trust in God’s word and to live in the confidence of God’s eternal love. May we have the courage to acknowledge Jesus before others.
“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.”
1. What hinders you from sharing God’s Word and teachings with others?
2. How have you experienced God’s love?
3. What experience or encounter with God would you be willing to share with another person?
4. How do Jesus’ words in the Gospel challenge and/or encourage your faith?