12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
A good Christian life demands that we must be ready to face sufferings, hardships, sacrifices, rejection, even persecutions in our efforts to do good, either in our parish community or in our society. Every step taken to do good, stirs up opposition from some people when they are determined to keep things just the way they are. They may keep warning us in many ways. “Don’t try to do anything different.” “Don’t start anything new.” It is a kind of asking us to “Just back off.”
But we wouldn’t want to back off. Because when we are convinced that all our efforts are for the good of others, we want to see our efforts come to completion, cost what it may.
Prophet Jeremiah in the First Reading today finds himself in such a state. As we know from the scriptures, Jeremiah was a gentle soul. When God first called him to be God’s messenger, he protested that he was too young for the job (1:4-10). God told him, not to be afraid and promised to be with him and deliver him.
In his current situation, as described in the Reading, he’s going to need that deliverance, because even his friends have turned on him and been giving him a hard time.
What was prophet’s fault? Jeremiah has followed God’s instructions. He has challenged people of turning away from God. So, his hearers have mocked him and belted him up, and even put him in prison. In that state of mind, he feels compelled to let God know how angry he is with God for the bad things he has been experiencing.
At the same time, he does not give up. He feels compelled to keep warning people about their need to change their ways in order to avoid the catastrophe heading their way.
Can we identify with Jeremiah? Do we ever feel like shouting at God? I am sure we have done that many times when we experienced backlash even when we tried to do good.
There is more to the story of Jeremiah than just his lamentations. In that part of his story that we have been hearing today, Jeremiah changes his tune. He thanks God that in all his troubles, God has been at his side and that God has been providing maximum support.
So, while Jeremiah is in solidarity with us in our disappointments and complaints, he is also urging us to keep on trusting, that no matter what we have to do and endure in our lives, God will never abandon us, we will even find God right there beside us.
In Gospel reading too, Jesus is just as encouraging. Don’t be afraid, he says.
Jesus is telling his followers, including us, that we are going to face opposition, just like he did. It will come from saying that we are Christians, that we are people for Jesus. It will come from being Jesus kind of people. It will come from that when we try to reflect in our lives the values of the kingdom, when we choose integrity over sin, it will come from walking in his footsteps, telling his truths, sharing his wisdom.
But Jesus assures us that God will never stop taking care of us. Jesus also assures us that God is going to reward us for all our efforts to stay faithful to Jesus, no matter how much ridicule might be dumped on us for that. After all, God cares even for two sparrows that can be bought for a single coin in the market. So, will he not be so much more caring of those persons who keep striving to follow Jesus his Son as closely as they can?
God is so aware of us, and so much on our side. In fact, the gospel says that he has counted every hair on our heads. In our experience of innocent people suffering it takes a lot of energy to accept that God loves us. Yet that’s is what our faith demands. We can trust, then, and strive to live as wise and faithful servants of the Lord, even if every now and then we fail.
Therefore the invitation is that We are to live in hope, We are to let go and let God.