Wednesday 20 April 2016

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Some of us may have heard stories of Christian missionaries going to distant lands to preach the Good News. Some of us may have been influenced by the movies or television, of the adventure and excitement of these Christian missionaries who overcame the odds, climbed mountains, crossed valleys and rivers, and successfully established Christian missions wherever they went. But more often than not, such movie or television scenes do not reflect the reality faced by Christian missionaries. The reality is that being a Christian missionary is a tough and thankless job. Jesus never promised us that it would be easy or smooth sailing, but warned His disciples and us too, that they will face persecution, and face many obstacles, such as objections from family and friends, criticisms, jealousy of others, stubbornness of those we are trying to reach out to, and many more other obstacles. What happens when we are faced with so many obstacles? We are tempted to be discouraged and tempted to give up. This causes some of us to not even want to try, as some are afraid of failure even before they have begun. When we are discouraged, we may be prevented from beginning Christ's mission. Sounds like a dready and hopeless situation, isn't it?

But wait! All is not lost. Today's readings give us lots of hope, assurance and encouragement. God is not saying that all will be well, or that He will solve all our problems, remove all obstacles, and make life easy for us. As witnesses for Jesus Christ, we are sure to meet with opposition, encounter rejection, and face much criticism from others. Why, even Jesus Himself was also rejected by His own people. So what is God's message for us? God's message is: "Do not be afraid." Do not be afraid, for as today's Gospel tells us: "everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear." Do not be afraid of any obstacle or person who seems to stand in the way of your mission in doing God's will, because as the first reading reminds us: "the Lord is at your side, a mighty hero” and He will deliver you.

So what does this mean? It means that we need to take courage. Courage does not mean we believe and rely on our own strengths and capabilities. Courage means we know and trust that God loves us and that we are precious in His eyes. Jesus uses the example of the two sparrows which can be bought for the price of a penny. The penny and the sparrows may seem small and worthless, but in the eyes of God, each sparrow is precious enough for God to take notice. What more of us? Jesus tells us in the Gospel: "You are worth more than hundreds of sparrows… so there is no need to be afraid!"

So let us take heart, do not be afraid, and not be discouraged. In today's second reading, St. Paul assures us: “If it is certain that through one man's fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift." Let us courageously declare Jesus in the presence of all people, and no matter what happens, may we always remember that we are precious in God's eyes. May we never end up regretting not trying in the first place, but be bold in our efforts, and glorify God in all we say and do.

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