Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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“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.”

COLLECT

Father, guide and protector of your people,

grant us an unfailing respect for your name,

and keep us always in your love.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

READING I

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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!”

CCC 2584 In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history.1

1 Cf. Am 7:2, 5; Isa 6:5, 8, 11; Jer 1:6; 15: 15-18; 20: 7-18.

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.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer 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.

R. Lord, in your great love, answer 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!”

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

READING II

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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.

CCC 388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,2 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.

CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.3 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.4 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.5 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,6 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.7

CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”8 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”9

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”10 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.11 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”12

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,13 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”14 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.15 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.16 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”17

CCC 1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.18 Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.19 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.20

1 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.

2 Jn 16:8.

3 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.

4 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.

5 Rom 8:21.

6 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.

7 Cf. Rom 5:12.

8 Rom 5:12,19.

9 Rom 5:18.

10 I Pt 1:18-20.

11 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.

12 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

13 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.

14 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.

15 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.

16 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.

17 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.

18 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.

19 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.

20 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.

APPLICATION

St. Paul is speaking of some of the immediate effects of Christian salvation, as brought to mankind by Christ. St. Paul stresses the fact that Christ through his death not only conquered sin but poured out divine grace so abundantly and lavishly on mankind, making them his brothers and therefore sons of God, that there is no comparison between the world redeemed by Christ’s death and the world of sin which prevailed up to then.

GOSPEL

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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.”

CCC 14 Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men.1 First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). The profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two).

CCC 305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children’s smallest needs: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ”What shall we eat?“ or ”What shall we drink?“… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”2

CCC 363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.3 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,4 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.5 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”6 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”7

CCC 1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.”8 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”9

CCC 2145 The faithful should bear witness to the Lord’s name by confessing the faith without giving way to fear.10 Preaching and catechizing should be permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cf. Mt 10:32; Rom 10:9.

2 Mt 6:31-33; cf. 10:29-31.

3 Cf. Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41.

4 Cf. Mt 10:28; 26:38; Jn 12:27; 2 Macc 6 30.

5 Cf. Mt 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50; Mk 9:43-48.

6 Mt 13:41-42.

7 Mt 25:41.

8 LG 42; cf. DH 14.

9 Mt 10:32-33.

10 Cf. Mt 10:32; 1 Tim 6:12.

APPLICATION

What our Lord said to His Apostles applies to all Christians in the practice of their faith. By the very fact of living our faith openly and fully we are apostles by example. If we are always truthful and faithful to our promises, if we are honest in all our dealings, if as employers we pay a just wage and treat those working for us not as “hands” but as whole men and women, if as employees we give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, if we live chaste lives whether in single life or in marriage, we are true Christians. Above all, if we have true love of God and show our appreciation of all that he has done for us, and if we prove that love, by helping his other children, our neighbors, we are a light shining in the darkness, because we are helping others to see the true meaning of the Christian religion.

This true light is needed more today perhaps than ever before. Our world is three quarters pagan or neo-pagan. The neo-pagans are those who once were Christians but abandoned their religion, sometimes through their own fault, but more often than not, because of the bad example they were given by their fellow Christians. These are worse off spiritually than the pagans who have never heard of Christ or the true God. These latter have at least some idols, some ancestral deities, to whom they pay respect. The neo-pagans have only themselves to venerate, and they can find little spiritual uplift in this form of religion.

A large majority of today’s teenagers, in most so-called Christian countries, have come to despise, or at least to neglect, the religion of their ancestors. In most cases the cause of this is that Christianity was never really put into practice in their own homes. There are cases of very black sheep coming out of very white Christian homes, but these are cases of weak personality—they prefer to follow the mob rather than try to force their way against it. On the whole, the decline of religion among today’s youth is due to bad example from their elders.

In today’s gospel message, our Lord is asking each one of us to be a fearless apostle. We will be, if we live up to our religion at home and abroad. “Have no fear of men,” He tells us, “don’t mind what your fellowmen think of you, if you object to obscene language in your work-place. Don’t fear what will be thought of you if you say your grace before and after meals in a public restaurant or hotel. Don’t take that extra drink just because your companions at the party might ridicule your control …”

These acts and many others like them, may seem trivial to some but they are giving testimony to the faith that is in us. Those who scoff at such things at first, may begin later to look into their own hearts, and come to realize what it is to be a man of principle. Eventually they may become men of principle themselves.

Let us remember our Lord’s promise “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan, O.F.M.

BENEDICTUS

The Destiny of Those Who were Called

The destiny of those who were “called” would henceforth be closely bound to that of Jesus. An apostle is one who is sent, but even before that he is an “expert” on Jesus. This very aspect is highlighted by the Evangelist John before Jesus very first encounter with the future apostles… The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan. The presence of the future disciples, who, like Jesus, also came from Galilee to receive the baptism administered by John, sheds light on their spiritual world. They were men who were waiting for the kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah whose coming had been proclaimed as imminent. It was enough for John the Baptist to point out Jesus to them as the Lamb of God, to inspire in them the desire for a personal encounter with the Teacher. The lines if Jesus’ conversation with the first two future Apostles are most expressive. This his question “What do you seek?”, they replied with another question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answer was an invitation: “Come and see.” Come, so that you will be able to see. The Apostles’ adventure began as an encounter of people who are open to one another. For the disciples, it was the beginning of a direct acquaintance with the Teacher, seeing where he was staying and starting to get to know him. Indeed, they were not to proclaim an idea, but to witness to a person. Before being sent out to preach, they had to “be” with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him. On this basis, evangelization was to be no more than the proclamation of what they felt and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion with Christ.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

(St. John 1.1-14)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the Light, that all men might believe through Him. He was not the Light, but was to give testimony of the Light. That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (here all kneel)

AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US,

and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Thanks be to God.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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