June 18, 2020: Reflection for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time…June 21, 2020

By Sr Mary Ann Zimmer ND

Jeremiah 20: 10-13   ~   Letter of Paul to the Romans 5:12-15  ~  Matthew 10: 26-33

Jeremiah: “To you Lord, I have entrusted my cause.”

Paul:  “But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one [Adam] the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.”

Matthew: “Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

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There is so much to fear these days: the Covid-19 virus, the deadly virus of racism and white privilege, economic hard times, political polarization, and the challenging questions being raised about institutions like churches and law enforcement that so many of us used to take for granted as only positive and healthy. We are afraid to say what we really think to one another and to examine our own deepest motivations. All of these cause widespread suffering and confusion. Where is God?

When Jesus said to his followers they were not to fear, that in God’s regard they were worth more than sparrows, many of those followers had no social dignity at all. Nobody thought these fishermen, tax collectors, disgraced women, low-ranking servants, or tenant farmers were worth bothering with. Jesus did not judge with the eyes of his times. He had his own standards that matched those of the prophets of his ancestors. God wanted care for orphans, widows, and foreigners–that is for those who were most vulnerable. It was clearly not easy for them to “trust God.”

When I used to read that I was to “fear not” I thought that the love of God was supposed to protect me from harm and suffering. That hasn’t happened. My more experienced self knows that I can “fear not” because suffering does not mean that God has abandoned me—as difficult as that is to believe at times.

The Gospel this Sunday asks us to look at our fears. Those are often the source of our suffering and of the suffering we inflict on each other. None of us is expected to take on all fears that surround us. Can we let God touch ours and teach us to heal each other’s fears?