The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 21, 2020
The Gospel of Matthew 10:26-33
Deacon Mike D’Addabbo
St. Louis Catholic Church
To those of you who have been attending Mass regularly since May 16th it is great to see you again. For those who are attending Mass today for the first time since March 17th welcome back and welcome home. For those who are still being cautious of public interaction at Mass due to health or age concerns we understand your absence. We encourage you to take advantage of the streaming Mass (which you may be watching this on) and to also take advantage of the drive-by confession and communion services that the parish makes available. The days and times of those sacraments are posted on our web page each week. Isn’t it ironic that until now we used to generally consider the term “drive-by” to mean bad things? Not anymore. ‘Drive-by’ now includes confession and the reception of Holy Communion for those who are concerned about going into the church during this time of Covid-19.
Today is the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Ordinary time? Hmmmm, I do not think so. To me, and I suspect most everyone else, these times are anything but ordinary. They are surreal. What we are experiencing today is unimaginable for most of us except maybe the best author of science fiction. I counted and today is the 14th Sunday in Surreal Time. That is how long we have been living under the ‘official’ stay home-stay safe ‘strong recommendations’ and Bishop Talley’s decree giving us apostolic dispensation from our obligation to attend Mass was instituted over Covid 19 concerns. It seems like this situation could go on forever. It is having negative effects on so many people that once solid relationships are strained. Even our pets are depressed. It is during times like this that we need to turn to, and not away from, God.
In todays first reading Jeremiah hears many people whispering that there is terror all around them. He knows that some of his friends will abandon him because of fear and they will look for an opportunity to betray him. Jeremiah is not worried. He knows and tells the people that the Lord is on his side and his persecutors will fail. Jeremiah has turned his concerns over to the Lord. He has complete trust in the Lord and knows that the Lord will prevail. Jeremiah does not know if he will see the Lord’s actions against his persecutors so he asks the Lord if he can witness them. He wants to see the Lord bring down his detractors. He concludes by telling the people that they should sing and praise the Lord because the Lord will rescue them from the wicked.
Today we are seeing society being ravaged by this unseen, deadly Coronavirus that, to date, has taken a great toll on human life, mental and emotional state with financial and economic repercussions not seen before. We feel helpless because there is not yet have a vaccine that will cure and help prevent this virus. One thing that we can do is wear masks. They are a good method to minimize the risk of passing or receiving the virus. Yet not everyone uses them. I understand that they do not like them. I hate them too. But I wear one because it may make the difference in the life of someone that has immune deficiencies or other medical conditions that makes them more vulnerable. We owe it to them, that is the global them, to put aside any personal discomfort in wearing a mask. Christ commanded us to love our neighbor as He loved us. It is an act of neighborly love to wear a mask and keep 6 ft. apart. We are protecting family, friends and strangers to the best extent possible until a vaccine is developed. We need to renew our faith in God and put all our trust in Him as Jeremiah did. Pray to God to guide, and give, the scientists the knowledge to develop a vaccine quickly and for governments to have compassion to their citizens. Over many years I have visited many foreign countries and, well before this pandemic, many people in those countries were wearing masks. Not necessarily because of illnesses or viruses but because of smog. We are complaining of masks as prevention against a deadly disease. What if we lived in a country where the average was 90 degrees with 90 pct. humidity and masks were an everyday part of life because of smog? Would we have the same resistance now? My chest would hurt after just 3 days in those countries. Wear your mask. It is the least we can do for others.
In todays Gospel Jesus tells His disciples that they should fear no one. That what He tells them privately they are to go out and proclaim to the world. His words were “from the housetops”. They should not be afraid to die. Their enemies can only kill their bodies. They cannot kill their souls. We should be afraid of those who can kill our body and our soul. Jesus tells them not to be afraid and that He will acknowledge to His father those who believe in Him. And for those who deny Jesus they will be denied to His father also.
But Today is more than the 12th Sunday in this not so ordinary time though. It is also Father’s Day. Today is the day we honor our father’s and grandfather’s. I pray that we all have, or had, the type of relationship with our fathers that were loving and nurturing. My father passed away 19 years ago. I still love him, and I miss him every day. I was far from a perfect child. I made mistakes and pushed the envelope of rules growing up. I am also the oldest of eight children so it was expected that I should set a good example. I cannot judge if I did that or not. I will say that we have all been successful. We knew that no matter what we did my father might not be happy but that he still loved us. We had faith and trust that his love for us would not waver. He was a father in the image of God that way. God’s love for us will not waver either. We love our dads and want to spend time with them. We love God. Are we spending time with Him?
We see examples of trust in God in today’s reading from Jeremiah and the Gospel from Matthew. Fathers are important figures and role models. No matter how secure we feel we always seek their approval. They praise us and instruct us. They give us boundaries and set rules and guidelines. God gave us the Ten Commandments and Jesus gave us the Beatitudes. Our fathers gave us curfews and restrictions on use of the car and tasks like mowing the lawns or cleaning the gutters. They also told us at times things we did not want to hear, that we did not like but that we needed to hear. They did this out of love for us. They shared their experience and wisdom to help us lead a better life. It is every father’s dream that their children will have a better life than they did. While we cannot lead a better life than Jesus Christ, we do know that His dream, and why He came to share in our humanity, is for us to join Him in heaven.
God is the first, and supreme, Father. He defines the meaning of fatherhood to us. So today is also His Father’s Day. All He wants from us is to love Him unfailingly and to love our neighbor as God loves us. So, how do we show our honor to God in these surreal times? If we are able, and comfortable enough, to go to Mass we should. If we are choosing not to attend Mass because a dispensation has been granted but we are out in public in retail stores, restaurants etc. then we need to rethink and realign our priorities. There is less of a chance of contracting the virus in Church then there is in a grocery store or other public venue. Especially if many people are not wearing a mask.
By being at Mass today, or any other day, either in person or by video streaming, we are honoring God who we correctly refer to as ‘Our Father’ in The Lord’s Prayer. It is to God we often pray too in times of trouble and despair. The “Our Father’ prayer has been getting a workout the last four months. We pray to Him as His children that we are. We not only honor Him, but we ask Him for many things in that prayer. Just like we might ask our earthly fathers for things. We acknowledge that it will be ‘His will’ done here on earth as it is done in heaven. We ask for His guidance, leadership, forgiveness and help all in our efforts. We seek His ultimate praise which is the reward of eternal life with Him.
Every dad has their own style of parenting and teaching of their children. It evolves with each new father. My father and father-in-law were two men of quite different backgrounds and careers. However, their strongest attribute was the same. They were both men with strong faith and family values. My father used to come into our rooms at night before he went to bed. He would kneel and say a prayer over us and then make the sign of the cross on our foreheads. He did that every night for all eight of us. My father passed away 19 years ago. I still love him and miss him every day. My late father-in-law passed away two months ago. He lived in CT. and the impact of the virus there has prevented having a funeral Mass, even with just family, to date. Even in the final stages of his dementia, he would point at the crucifix and the picture of Jesus on the divine mercy card that were both hanging on his wall and, with as strong a voice and unwavering belief as the man I met 47 years ago, tell me that the man who was hanging on the crucifix and in the picture died for him. No matter where his mind might wander to, his mind never lost sight of who Jesus Christ was, how important He was and how Jesus died for him. My father and father-in-law are the examples I sought to emulate. Fathers are the men we want to tell of our accomplishments and the ones we look to for solace at the time of failure. I loved my father-in-law and I miss him. I am a blessed person. I was born with a great dad and I married a girl with a great dad.
Today is Father’s Day. As children of God and our fathers we owe them an unconditional thanks for their unconditional love. Unconditional is not a free pass to do whatever we want without consequences. It means that even if a mistake is made, our Father’s will still love us and we can ask for, and expect, his forgiveness. I used to tell my children that being a father meant I was to be their dad first and their friend second. I felt it was my duty to set rules and give praise. If necessary, punishment. All because of my love for them.
Today we honor God and our fathers both here and in heaven. To all you dads I wish you a great Father’s day enwrapped in love and surrounded by your family. Today we also honor the spiritual fathers of the St. Louis Parish family. Please join me in wishing a Happy Father’s Day to Fr. Jolly, Fr. Burke, Fr. Jeo and Fr. Jins. Thank you for all you do for us, your children, here in our parish and especially during this exceedingly difficult time. May God bless you.