With this parable, he wanted to send a message to his discouraged disciples who asked him about the usefulness of the apostolic work he was doing. Despite all the contradictions and obstacles, his word would have given abundant fruit because it has in itself an irresistible force of life.
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But the loving convergence of divine and human desire promoted by the Our Father is suddenly interrupted by the penultimate petition, "and lead us not into temptation". It is precisely this last aspect that has generated pastoral discomfort and has led exegetes and Church leaders – among whom we now include Pope Francis – to ask for a modification of the centuries-old formula of the liturgical prayer that would respond to sentiments now widely shared and promote a more accurate and respectful conception of God.
The solemn exclamation with which today’s Gospel begins is one of the few prayers of Jesus reported in the Gospels: “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise you because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to simple people” (v. 25). The wise and the intelligent are often mentioned together in the Bible and, many times, in a pejorative sense. They are those who profess themselves as devout researchers of wisdom. They even think of having a monopoly on it. In fact, they rack with folly and revel with vain discussions.
From today's Gospel passage, as in many other texts of the New Testament (Mt 10:2; Lk 22:32, Jn 21:15-17), it is clear that Peter is entrusted with a particular task in the church. It is he who always appears first, is called to feed the lambs and the sheep and sustains his brothers and sisters in the faith.
The second of the five discourses of Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew develops the themes related to sending of the disciples to a mission. Today we are offered the concluding passage. In the first part (vv. 37-39), the demands of discipleship are presented in all their harshness. Radical and unprecedented renouncements are required.
Today we celebrate the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, June 24, the solstice, when the sun begins to diminish and this is the reason why, since the time of St. Augustine (we are at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth century), the feast of the Baptist is celebrated. Precisely because he himself had said: Now I must stay to one side because another light has appeared.
I am sure each one of you knows that this pandemic experience is going to have a major effect on your future. It’s going to leave a deep imprint on everything, on human lives, on communities, on society, politics, our sense of our place in nature, even our faith.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus insists, three times: “Do not be afraid!” (vv. 26, 28, 31) and each time, he adds a motive to justify his recommendation. The announcer of the Gospel is afraid, first of all, because of the violence unleashed by the enemies of Christ, his mission might fail (vv. 26-27). Jesus assures him that despite the trials and hardships, the Gospel will spread and transform the world.
I wish you all a joyful feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which we shall celebrate this year with austerity in the midst of the uncertainty that is still hanging around the globe over the pandemic virus. The twin feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary invite us to take care of our hearts to keep them steeped in God’s love when we navigate through the storms of life.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart has very ancient origins. It has spread in the Church especially starting from the seventeenth century through the work of a French mystic, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Like all forms of popular piety, this too entered into crisis after the Vatican Council II. The traditional image—the one showing the Sacred Heart “on a throne of flames, radiant as the sun, with the adorable wound, surrounded by thorns and topped by a cross” is in conformity with the description given by St. Margaret Mary to whom He appeared.