Theme: WITH EVIL WITHIN US AND AROUND US, WE TRUST IN GOD
- Jeremiah 20:10 – 13
- Psalm 68:8-10. 14. 17. 33-35
- Romans 5:12-15
- Matthew 10:26-33
The theme for today’s readings (Gospel and first reading) is on preaching God’s word faithfully without fear even in times of persecution for God will protect and vindicate his prophets and apostles.
But there is a wider and more relevant theme in today’s readings. That is, when we are surrounded by evil and evil men, we have to trust in God and pray, and God will protect us and vindicate us.
The first reading from the prophet Jeremiah tells us that Jeremiah was being persecuted for proclaiming the bad news that Jerusalem will be destroyed. Jeremiah’s mission was “to uproot and to tear down and to plant and to build”. But up to today’s first reading – chapter 20 – Jeremiah was still tearing down and uprooting. Jeremiah was persecuted for proclaiming bad news.
However Jeremiah trusted in God and prayed to God to take revenge on the enemy and to save him from the hands of the evil men.
The Responsorial Psalm has been chosen to go with the first reading. It is the prayer of a man who has been persecuted for doing God’s will and work. It is a prayer asking God to save the good man from the evil man.
The Gospel tells us that the apostles will be persecuted for proclaiming the Good News, and again, the gospel tells us that God will protect them and vindicate them.
God has counted every hair on their heads and God who cares even for worthless sparrows will surely take care of them who are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.
But for me personally, I am most struck by the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans. St. Paul tells us in the second reading from the letter to the Romans that just as Adam brought sin and death into the world, Jesus Christ brought grace and eternal life to the world. But much more than that Paul tells us that the grace and eternal life that Jesus Christ brought far outweighed the sin and death brought by the first Adam. And that is why on Easter Vigil night we can sing in the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation): “oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam, that has won for us so great a redeemer”! And that is why I always say that the life of grace after sin is even better than the life of innocence before sin! “Oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”
Again, I am personally touched by this second reading because I realize that sin is not only outside us in our enemies, but sin is also deeply rooted in each of us. In fact modern spiritual psychologists tell us that it is in our unconscious and subconscious minds. Modern geneticists tell us that it is even in our genes! In fact the doctrine of Original sin taught by the Catholic Church is based on this text of Paul to the Romans – Romans 5:12!
We are born with sin and death and that is what Original Sin is all about! But more importantly, the second reading tells us that through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, grace and eternal life is even more abundant than sin and death!
Today’s second reading is taken from Romans 5:12-15, but if we were to read the whole section on “Adam and Jesus Christ” in the NJB, up to Romans 5:12-21, we will read that ‘where sin increased, grace increased all the more! The more sin the more grace!
I am not a politician or an expert in race relations and religions, but when I look at the present war in the Middle East between the Palestinians and the Israelites, I get the feeling that they see evil only outside themselves in their enemies and they see salvation only of themselves and they see destruction only of the enemy. And they see salvation coming from themselves, from their own hands and from their own tanks or bombs.
But for us Christians we see evil first and foremost in ourselves, and our salvation do not come from ourselves, but from Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ does not save us with tanks and bombs – Jesus Christ is not a political and much less a military Messiah – but with grace, love and forgiveness!
We Christians also see that salvation is not only for ourselves, but for everybody, especially for sinners. We believe that God hates sin, but God loves the sinner! We believe that God hates evil, but he loves the evil man. St. Paul tells us that what proves that God loves us is that Jesus Christ died for us while we were still sinners!
Today Jesus Christ continues his work of Salvation in the Holy Spirit, in the Church, in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Today as we celebrate the Eucharist, as we celebrate his death and resurrection, he will pour out his graces upon us to forgive our sins, to free us from death and to give us eternal life!
And through us he will pour out his graces upon the whole world, forgiving their sins, freeing them from death and giving them eternal life! This is the Good News for the whole world! Amen!