Sunday Sermon for June 25, 2023, the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: Jer 20:10-13; Rom 5:12-15; Mt 10:26-33

Today’s Gospel reading begins with our Lord telling His Apostles, “Fear no one.”  We live in a world that is becoming increasingly violent and where people have either forgotten or completely ignore the dignity of other people.  As we see chaos, uprisings, and threats of war, we need to consider this statement by Jesus.

Over the centuries the holy martyrs have had to cling to this teaching of Jesus.  Since there have been more martyrs in the past 100 years than in the previous 1900 years combined, this lesson is one that must be lived now in a more profound way than in the past.  We must also remember two things regarding this statement: first, it was made by God.  Second, it was made by One Who was brutally treated and killed.

But it is in part the events of our Lord’s Passion, death, and resurrection that help us to put this teaching into a context for ourselves.  In the second reading, St. Paul says that sin came into the world through one man, and through sin death came into the world.  Now, through the death of one Man, sin has been destroyed.  Not only has sin been destroyed, but through the death of Jesus, true life has been revealed.  If we know our sins are forgiven and we have the promise of life in Heaven, then we do not need to be afraid because we know death is not the end.

How do we know our sins are forgiven?  If we have confessed our sins and received absolution for them, then they are gone.  God has removed them from your soul and He has destroyed them.  This is what it means to say sin has been destroyed.  Not that people have stopped sinning or that God overlooks human sin, but that the sins of every person who is truly repentant are destroyed from our souls and will never be heard of again.

Someone may suggest that they do not fear death or martyrdom, but they fear the suffering that may be inflicted on them by others.  This suffering can certainly be physical, but it can also be mental or emotional suffering.  We see this in the first reading where the Prophet Jeremiah is dealing with his own friends who have turned against him, denounced him, and are seeking an opportunity to take vengeance on him.

Jeremiah gives us the proper response to threats and violence.  He says he has entrusted his cause to the Lord.  He says the Lord is with him as a mighty champion.  For this reason, he sings to the Lord and praises the Lord.  Mind you, he has not yet been freed from the persecution.  Like Saints Paul and Silas when they were flogged and imprisoned, they were singing and praising the Lord.  They were in prison, not freed from the prison!  It was the example of these holy men that brought about the conversion of the jailer and his family. 

When we consider the sufferings that might come our way, there are two things we must keep before us: trust and charity.  The trust is what we see with Jeremiah, and also with Jesus and the Saints.  They know God is with them, even in their suffering.  Many assume that if God is with them, He will stop the injustices and the attacks that come against His children.  We learn from history that God will sometimes intervene, but more often, He allows the injustice.  This helps the person being treated unjustly to grow in virtue or, if it is to the point of martyrdom, it brings them to eternal life.

When we consider the virtue that is developed by enduring injustices, we can speak of meekness, patience, forgiveness, and so on.  Most of all, it is charity that God is working to perfect in us.  When we see the response of our Lord to the way He was treated, we have the blueprint for how we should handle these situations.  He forgave, He prayed for the people inflicting the injuries on Him, He did not act in anger or vengeance. 

Unfortunately, the example our Lord gives us is not what is natural to us.  Instead, it is something that is learned and developed over time by repeated incidences that will show us where we are lacking in virtue, then provide a way for us to grow in the virtues we lack.  Rather than acting out in a negative way, we need to learn to turn to the Lord for help so we can, by His grace, act in a holy and virtuous manner.  Once we have learned that God truly is with us and that He always brings good out of evil, we can remain with Him and no longer be afraid.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit