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Homily for the 12th Sunday in ordinary time

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:10-13; Romans 5:12-15: Matthew 10:26-33

Saint John Baptist de la Salle/Saint Stephen June 25, 2023

“Fear no one,” Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel. Easy to say, a lot harder to do. We are frightened and afraid of many things, especially other people. In today’s Scripture reading, Jeremiah said, “I can hear the whisperings of many I thought were my friends, trying to trap me, trying to take out their vengeance against me.” Has there ever been someone or something in your life that you were afraid of? Jesus tells us to “fear no one,” however, he then goes on to say that we should “fear the one who can destroy both our soul and our body.” Who do you think this “one who can kill body and soul” really is? And, if you think you know who it is, why do we have to be afraid?

Now being afraid is much different than being scared. When my children were quite small, we watched many scary movies together, and yes, sometimes we were scared, but we were never afraid. Why? Because the reason scary movies are made is to scare us, and some of them do a very good job, but a scary movie is always make-believe and never real.

Hollywood likes to make movies about our struggles and battles with demons. Movie makers, however, do not believe in demons any more than they believe in superheroes, though you would have to say, both make for blockbuster movies. Stories about demonic possessions produce a scare worth buying a ticket for. Hollywood markets demons, but it does not really know what to do with angels. Our faith professes belief in both, but the way our society pictures demons and angels is dangerous and very misleading. Why? Because our images of angels and demons are too childlike. Angels and demons are spirits, they do not have brains and think the way humans do. Remember, angels and demons are created intelligences, and like humans, they did not always exist. They come forth from God, the only intelligence that has always existed. We like to think that they are two groups, one who remained with God, one who has not. For that very reason, Jesus warned us to fear the one who can kill our body and our soul.

We also believe, as our Church teaches, that angels and demons communicate among themselves as well as with us. One group trying to influence us to move closer to God, the other group away from God. If angels and demons are now not as unreasonable as they once seemed, then try to think of an answer to this ancient question: How do we explain the human tendency to make enemies of our sisters and brothers? How does our lack of understanding of others slip so quickly into suspicion? Why do disagreements often desire the death of the other? Why is violence so appealing to so many people?

Our faith in God finds the world in which we live to be an utterly reasonable and pleasant place to live. This should come as no surprise for it comes from our God, an infinite intelligence that is entirely good. So, where does our tendency for the stupid and sinister come from? We know that the problems that plague our planet begin within ourselves. Therefore, is it not reasonable to conclude, or at least to suspect, that our minds are open to influences that are both good and evil?

We do well to be aware of the evil that lurks around us, for the danger is real and we need to heed it. However, even though there may be an evil out to destroy our soul, there is a Kingdom of God that awaits us.

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