Sunday, June 25, is the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). Mass Readings: Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33.

“Fear no one,” says Jesus in today’s Gospel.

He doesn’t want us to be secret Christians, hiding our faith from the world, embarrassed that we still believe. He says, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father, and whoever denies me before others I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

He wants us to “proclaim on the housetops” what he has revealed. But we fail at this so often that it can be a little discouraging.

We can fail in the workplace. We are pro-life, we reject gender ideology, and we believe in what marriage has always and everywhere been defined to be — but what do we say when these issues come up at the office?

We can fail in our social life. We may fail to stand up against judgmental gossip, we may fail to say “No” when a bad activity is suggested, or we may even fail to stay chaste in our dating relationships — all because we don’t want to “make a scene.”

We may be afraid of taking a stand with our own children — afraid to say “No” to that toxic friend group, afraid to enforce the home computer rules, or afraid to ban that video game — afraid of insisting on what’s right. Or maybe it’s our spouse’s behavior we refuse to confront.

This is how sin proliferates. “Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned,” explains St. Paul. We lost our friendship with God, and now our vanity gets the best of us. We care more about others’ opinions of us than we do about God’s.

But St. Paul also describes how the grace of Jesus Christ can break this cycle — for “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.”

The graces Jesus offers us can transform our lives.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit that we receive at baptism include fortitude, which “enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions,” says the Catechism (808). These gifts also include fear of God, which “is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace,” says Pope Francis.

These gifts can give us the strength of Jeremiah from today’s first reading — or the strength of Moriah Bridges, the 2016-17 senior class president at Beaver High School in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

At her recent graduation speech, she planned to mention who is most important to her: God. But the school’s administrators made her take those references out. She did, for the most part, but then at the very end of her speech, she added:

“I’ve always been a rule follower. When they said not to chew gum, I didn’t chew gum. When they said not to use your cellphone, I didn’t use my cellphone. But today, in the spirit of defying expectations, and for perhaps the last time at this podium, I say in the righteous name of Jesus Christ: Amen!”

 

Tom Hoopes is writer in

residence at Benedictine College

in Atchison, Kansas.

He is the author of What

Pope Francis Really Said.

Editor's Note: This guide originally incorrectly stated it was the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

It has been corrected to indicate the 12th Sunday.