Joy of the Gospel


XII Sunday in Ordinary Time-A

Do not be afraid

Shame, the prophet Jeremiah.
The Lord’s word that he is bound to speak to his beloved brothers gets him in trouble all the time every time. No consolation for him, no reward and no protection, not even in the sense of ‘don’t touch the Lord’s anointed ‘. Many years ago someone gave me photocopy print of a painting by artist Fr. Frans Claerhout of the sun catcher. Ugly and burnt is he, with the sun he just caught bright and beautiful in his arms right at that moment. Jeremiah is like that for proclaiming the truth. Ugly and burnt.
And yet, deep down he wasn’t going to stop. For the Lord, he says, knows your insides through and through. He scrutinises the loins and heart. So better stick to the truth even in your most secret thoughts. That will be the downfall of his persecutors. Their conscience. But things will not change for the better for Jeremiah.
Still, to his disciples, proclaimers of truth, Jesus says, do not be afraid. For there is so much to be afraid of, really. Loss of popularity, friends, position. Or rejection, to name but a few. Therefore it makes sense to rather stay quiet. In Afrikaans we say, ‘n toe bek is ‘n heel bek, which means silence is safer. How much of that is going on in the Church right now, on all levels of church? Especially at this time before the synod where we are called to listen to each other, to become aware of everyone with us on the road. Among us, Jesus’s disciples, proclaimers of truth, I dare say a lot of shutting up, hold your tongue is going on. So much that we have even told it to our face: conscience, be quiet, silence is safer! And for safety’s sake we throw mud on those who do speak up, true to their conscience. We call them names no matter who they are, even the Pope. Mamma mia! Gone are the days of our innocence from baptism, numb is our life even if we eat and drink and celebrate the sacraments. And then we ask ourselves how did we get here?
Still stronger is the word of the Lord to the Jeremiah in each of us: do not be afraid. I hope to God we will hear him and take courage.