Today’s Gospel, Matthew 10:26-33, contains an exhortation and a warning.
Jesus says to The Twelve: “Fear no one.” Fear no one because He is with us and will see us through the journey of life. Jesus is faithful to us, perhaps the only one who will unconditionally love us and accept us for who we truly are.
And there is a warning: “… 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.” This can be interpreted about the company that we keep. Friends influence us. One of the cautions given to people coming out of drug rehab centers is not to go back to the circle of friends that they have been traveling with. If they do, they will soon loose their sobriety. They need to find healthy, supportive friends. The same is true for all of us. The circle of friends that we associate with can make or break us spiritually.
Today’s Gospel, Matthew 11:25-30, contains some of the most consoling words in Scripture. Jesus exclaims:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Who of us is not burdened? Jesus – and ultimately Jesus alone – can relieve us and make life worthwhile.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew 6:7-15, Jesus teaches us about prayer.
Jesus begins by saying: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words … “. Prayer is simple and to the point. And the Jesus teaches us The Our Father – The Lord’s Prayer. And in it we find several key elements of prayer:
… Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven … We pray that God’s will be done in our lives and in our world;
… Give us this day our daily bread … Give us the physical and spiritual gifts that we need;
… Forgive us our trespasses … We are in need of forgiveness and we need to forgive others;
… Deliver us from evil … The Evil One seeks power over us.
I get turned off by people who continually brag about all the good things that they do. Whether it’s politicians, celebrities or just the person next door, many feel compelled to remind us of how good they are. What I am ashamed to share is that I, too, engage in this kind of egotistic , self-justifying behavior.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18, teaches a different message. Jesus says, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them …. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet …. When you pray, do no be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others …. When you fast, do not look gloomy ….” Jesus says to us: DON’T BRAG. Jesus tells us not to draw attention to ourselves. And He concludes by telling us, “And your Heavenly Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” The Father sees all and knows all. He will take care of us.
Not yesterday; not tomorrow! St. Paul in today’s first reading, II Corinthians 6:1-10, emphasizes that “now is the day of salvation!”
We humans are strange creatures. We find it hard to live in the NOW. Oftentimes, we find ourselves living in the past or projecting ourselves into a problematic future. We consume a lot of energy fretting over a past that we cannot change, or we live with a lot of anxiety in a future that is yet to unfold. St. Paul reminds us that all that we have is the NOW. The NOW is our only reality and it is in the NOW that we encounter God. It is in the NOW that our salvation is being worked out!