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Sunday, June 25, 2017, Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sing Praise to God—He Rescued Us

First Reading Commentary Jeremiah 20:10-13

          Jeremiah lived in a time when people did not want to listen to God’s Word. They did not even want to hear God’s Word. We live in such a time today. Religious persecution exists all over the world. It is taboo to hold conversations about religion and faith. Prayer has been taken out of our schools. Too many people who claim to be religious do not understand what their professed religion is. Sadly, I find this particularly true among fellow Catholics.

          In today’s first reading, Jeremiah is praying. But in his prayer, Jeremiah was reflecting and lamenting on the persecution that he was going through after prophesying. If you read verses 1-9, you will find that Jeremiah was heard by Pashhur who was a priest and son of the chief officer of the LORD’s house. Jeremiah was scourged and placed in the stocks at the upper gate. The next morning, Jeremiah told Pashhur that he would be named “Terror on every side” by the LORD and that he would see his people fall to the king of Babylon.

          Jeremiah began his prayer by complaining to the LORD saying, “You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped.” Can you get over that? Jeremiah was accusing God of deceiving him. That’s not what God does but the devil does all the time.

Sometimes when things do not go our way, we complain to God and act like it is His fault. Oh, you say, “I have never done that.” Well, the next time something goes wrong and you immediately say, “Damn” or something like that, or even worse, don’t forget to confess your sin.

Frustrated with his persecutors and frustrated with himself for being angry with the LORD, Jeremiah said, “I will speak in his name no more.” In other words, Jeremiah decided that he no longer wanted to be a prophet.

Childish! No different than a child saying, “You’re not playing the way that I want to play so I’m packing up my toys and going home.” We do the same thing. Something does not go the way that we want it to go in church and we get mad and leave the church. I understand. I’ve been tempted to leave my parish because things were not going the way I thought that they should.

But then I have to remember that it is not my church. It is God’s Church, more specifically, the Son’s Church of which we are all a part. Remember, Christ said to Peter, “Upon my church…” and remember that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.

As these spiritual thoughts cross my mind, I begin to open up and pray. It may be a simple one liner like, “Help me God.” It may come out like an expression but I still mean it and the result is that the “stinkin thinkin” begins to go away as the conscience takes over. Don’t you just love the Holy Spirit for bestowing on us His gifts and fruits?

That happened to Jeremiah as his whole attitude changed and he said, “But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion.” Jeremiah realized that the LORD as his God was also his protector and that with God’s protection, his persecutors could do him no harm. God is with us too but sometimes—all too often, we fail to pay attention.

But then Jeremiah made another mistake. He said, “…let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause.”

Granted, Jeremiah had placed his faith in the LORD. He knew that the LORD would take care of it. That kind of faith is always a good thing and has been the foundation for many a miracle over the course of time. The problem is that Jeremiah wished harm on someone else. Jeremiah not only wanted the LORD to punish his enemies—Jeremiah wanted a front row seat so that he could watch the action.

Don’t get it twisted. God takes vengeance on us for our sins if we do not confess and repent. This means that God punishes us just as parents punish their children and we are God’s children. The thing is that just as a child does not want to be punished, I do not want to go to hell. Just saying.

Revenge is another matter and that is what was in Jeremiah’s heart. He wanted to get even with and see his persecutors get theirs for what they had done to him. We are no different and we are no better.

We are quick to seek revenge on someone who offends us. If there were no such thing as revenge, there would be no such thing as capital punishment. In some cases, there would not be any need for prisons. Think about it: How often do we see family members of a murder victim in the court room, hoping and sometimes even praying for the death penalty? That is revenge and revenge comes from hate and hate will always lead us to nowhere good.

But then what Jeremiah said next was the best thing that he could say. Jeremiah gave praise to the LORD and acknowledged that the Lord had rescued the poor from the power of the wicked. That’s what God does! But that is not what is important. What is important is that God does what He does because He wants to and God wants to because of His love for us—His children and His favorite creation. That is why, with all of our faults and imperfections, we should do exactly what Jeremiah did and that is to praise the LORD.

Who or What Do You Blame?

Second Reading Commentary Romans 5:12-15

Paul challenges us to meditate on the root of sin and death in the world but Paul also challenges us to meditate on the grace that saves us and more importantly, who it is that provides that saving grace.

Now I could write several commentaries on the topic of where sin and death come from, who is to blame and why we have to deal with death, sin and the root of all sin—original sin. But we will save those topics for another day.

For now, let’s just acknowledge another message that Paul is trying to tell us today. Sin came into the world through Adam who was a man but our salvation from sin which leads to eternal life in heaven comes to us through a man who also is our Savior—Jesus Christ.

Paul tells us that the gift—salvation is not like the transgression—sin. Stop and ponder that statement for a moment because it suggests that Paul makes a comparison between sin and salvation. That’s okay but the statement also suggests that Paul makes a comparison between Adam and Jesus Christ. How can we compare anyone to Christ?

We cannot nor should we dare to try. What we can do is say that someone is God-like because of their strong faith and the way that they live their lives. Not because we are attempting to make an impossible comparison but because we recognize their commitment to follow God’s way as best they can. In other words, it is clear to see that they genuinely try their best to be righteous by obeying the Greatest Commandment with humility.

Now let’s take a look at sin vs. salvation. First, sin. We know sin as making a conscience decision to do something wrong. None of us can say that we have never been guilty of making such a decision which is why there can be no argument to the fact that we all sin.

Where we may commit a sin for the sake of acquiring some physical pleasure or tangible gain or unearned reward, that sin always comes with unpleasant consequences if caught. Those unpleasant consequences may come in the form of punishment or in the form of others taking retaliation against us.

Sin will stop us from going straight to heaven when we die to this life. A mortal sin such as murder will send us straight to hell if we fail to confess and repent for that sin before we die to this life. Like heaven, hell is eternal. The good news is that no matter what the sin may be, sin can be forgiven and that is why Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Confession and that brings us to salvation.

Salvation is love. It is the result of God’s love for us. God made a conscience and deliberate decision to save each one of us from the moment of man’s first sin in the Garden of Eden. Salvation is also a conscience and deliberate decision on our part because we can only be saved if we choose to be saved. Salvation is not automatic—it is a choice.

There is a reward associated with salvation. That reward is eternal life in heaven where there is no pain, no wrong and no hatred. In heaven there is only love, peace, happiness and joy. Heaven is the reward that is granted to us for loving and obeying God.

Salvation is the gracious gift of Christ that Paul tells us about. Paul tells us that the gift of Christ overflows for the many. In other words, Christ emptied Himself for everyone.

In the end, we have no one to blame for sin but ourselves. The beauty is that we have no one to blame for salvation either but ourselves. That is, if we choose it. We cannot blame God for salvation because we have to choose it. But we definitely owe Him all praise, honor, glory and gratitude. “Thank You God” is a good thing to say and we should say “Thank You” to God often.  

Do Not Be Denied

Gospel Commentary Matthew 10:26-33

Jesus told the Apostles to fear no one. He said that nothing would be concealed that would not be revealed and that nothing would be secret that would not be known. We may not understand God with our human minds but God does not hide anything from us. He has told us everything. What remains a mystery because we cannot see it, we will see and understand on the last day.

Jesus said, “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” Jesus was telling the Apostles, that after He was gone, they were to proclaim whatever He told them through the Spirit to everyone and in every place. Jesus told them to speak in the light which is the truth.

He told them not to be afraid of those who could kill the body but could not kill the soul. Jesus said to be afraid of the one who can destroy both the soul and the body in Gehenna. Jesus was telling the Apostles to watch out for the devil. Why should we be afraid of the devil when he cannot hurt us? Because he is the ruler of the world and he can make us hurt ourselves if we allow him and we do allow him if we listen to him. The devil is cunning and the master of lies. I have said before that the devil can take a bag of Sugar, Honey and Iced Tea and make it look so irresistible that we cannot live without it. That bag is full of the stuff that will send us to hell and that is what we have to be afraid of.

Jesus made the point that we are most precious in the eyes of the Father when he said, “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.”

What Jesus said next is most important if we want to be in heaven. Jesus said, “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." This does not mean that we can proclaim to know Christ and live a life which is in contradiction to His commandments. The words mean nothing to Jesus from such a person. Their actions will speak and the actions of such a person are a denial of Christ.

Therefore, if we do not want to be denied, we must believe, proclaim and live by what we proclaim. In this way, we choose to be recognized.

Reading 1          Jeremiah 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!"

Responsorial Psalm          Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35

R. (14c) 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 2          Romans 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.

Gospel          Matthew 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."

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The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Paragraph 767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church."174 Then "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun."175 As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.176

The Holy Spirit came to Mary and the Apostles as tongues of fire.

Blessed Jutta of Thuringia
(d. c. 1260)
Patron Saint of: Prussia

As Jeremiah laments over erything that is going wrong, he realizes that the LORD is still with him and ready to protect him.

God Is In Love With You

You are loved, and as Saint Augustine said, “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.” Think about that! You are loved exclusively and completely by God. You don’t have to compete for or earn God’s love or be anybody different from who you are, because God is in love with you. – from the book Healing Promises: The Essential Guide to the Sacred Heart

Adam brought sin into the world. Christ came to save us from sin but we must follow Christ if we are to enjoy salvation.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord;
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

There is nothing to fear when we follow Christ.

Jesus tells us that we are worth more than many sparrows but if we deny Him, He will deny us to the Father.

Saints of the Week

Blessed Raymond Lull
(c. 1235 – 6/28/1315)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Saint Irenaeus
(c. 130 – c. 202)

Solemnity of
Saints Peter and Paul

Saint Paul is the
Patron Saint of
: Greece

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome
(d. 64)

Saint Junipero Serra

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