The Gift of God’s Presence

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Closely after Easter it’s good for us to reflect on the words of Jesus that “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” (Mt10: 26-27). Jesus points out to the disciples that in the midst of their fears and anxieties, He would send the Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father would send in His name — he would teach them everything and remind them of all that He told them (Jn 14:26). Upon receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, they were on fire proclaiming what seemed to have been concealed, what seemed to have been a secret, what seemed they have heard as whisper and in darkness for fear of reprisals from the Jewish authorities. They proclaimed boldly and with conviction. This is what is ringing, or at least should be ringing, in our minds and hearts today. To proclaim the Gospel in word, in deed and in truth, we need courage.

Courage is not a thing we can demand when we need it. It is a virtue that we can ask for when others need us. It is not a thing that we can boast about. It is a virtue that others can use through us when there is fear or weakness. Courage does not usually roar in pride or boastfulness, neither does it bark out its defensive stance when intimidated, but through the strength of God in our hearts we can do what we have to do, and move on with our life, and be a strength to others.

 Courage is not equivalent to brutal frankness or quick action without thinking. Courage is the will to act despite a fearful situation for the good others and society. It is a decision to do something in trust that the God of power and might will do what mere human strength cannot act on. A writer said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

 Moses, despite his weakness, gained courage from God who promised to be with him wherever he went. When David was about to die, he told his son, Solomon: Take courage and be a man. Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following His ways and observing His statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees, that you may succeed in whatever you do (1 Kings 2:2-3) (https://onewordonlyhope.com/about/).

In this world we tend to hide our sad past, our personal problems, our present difficulties, our fears, our resources, including our income and property, and many tend to hide their faith, for fear of criticism or intrusion. There is so much fear about attacks on personal security and space, well-being and the practice of the faith; and many would focus only on the negative aspects and weaknesses of others and the community that bring animosity, bitterness and indifference in society.

However, in our first reading today, Jeremiah proclaims his unwavering trust that the Lord would protect and save him from his enemies, and so, he proclaimed God’s words and commands to His people. Similarly, Mary, in Her visit with Elizabeth, would proclaim God’s fulfillment of His promises that He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy (Lk 1:51-54).

All prayers, like that of Jeremiah’s, are heard and transformed into graces for the person praying and for God’s people. Even the prayer of a sinful person is transformed into grace for him so that he would realize his situation, and the people concerned are gracefully affected. Even prayer of a selfish person is also transformed into graces for him and for others, so that he would realize that what he is praying for is not for himself only, but also for others, unless he just would ignore or would not listen to the movements of the Spirit. The Book of Sirach tells us that the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds (35:21).

So, what do we do? Jesus tells us: “do not be afraid . . . everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father” (Mt 10: 31-32). So, proclaim the life of Jesus at all times, at home, in church, at work, in school, in quiet or in leisure, yes, in all circumstances. The gracious gift of God’s presence overflows for all.

God bless you all.

Fr. Tito Ayo

 

6-25-17

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