12th Ordinary Sunday
June 21, 2020
“Trust Instead of Fear”
My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord –
There is one thing for certain that the Corona Pandemic has forced us to do
and that is to assess our priorities. Everyone has been affected by the virus in some way.
Sooner or later most will be exposed to it in some way before herd immunity is finally
The economic consequences of the pandemic have touched everyone even if
the virus has not. Consequently, most of us have had to reflect very seriously upon what is
truly necessary for our physical and economic survival and what is not. Moreover, everyone
must come to grips with the shortness and the tenuousness of our physical life on this planet!
Unfortunately, those without faith, belief in God, or hope in an after-life
probably suffer the greatest anxiety. Life here is all that they believe we have. Thus, they
must live as long as they can and stay alive at all costs.
Those with true faith are in an entirely different position – For they know in their
heart of hearts that they are made for something more. Their belief in God helps them to aspire
to the goodness that brings great inner peace even now! And they also trust that God, who is
the Supreme Good, will, ultimately, triumph over the worst evil in the world!
Jeremiah was a prophet whom God sent to change the hearts of the Chosen
People and their leadership five centuries before the coming of Christ. However, with the
exception of only one king, whose reign was short-lived, those in power resisted Jeremiah
and wanted him destroyed. Jeremiah had to be constantly vigilant wherever he was because
of his unsettling message.
Today, Jeremiah praises God because, somehow, God always protected him
and delivered him. In fact, Jeremiah escaped to Egypt and lived in personal spiritual freedom
shortly before Jerusalem was destroyed and the Chosen People exiled to Babylon!
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches us that God has a purpose and a plan
behind everything that happens in our lives and in our world. God can even bring goodness
and salvation despite the evil that often seems rampant everywhere.
Today, Jesus counsels us to fear no one – and we could add: no thing!
God will ultimately triumph. “Nothing is concealed or secret that will not be revealed!”
We are not to fear the political powers or the viruses that can wreak havoc and even kill
our bodies. God knows all and sees all. Just as He knows what happens to the sparrows
in our trees, so, too, He knows us and what happens to us. Furthermore, we have far more
value than the sparrows themselves!
What is paramount for us is that we never break faith with Jesus or with
the Father who sent him. We cannot let fear of the virus or its economic consequences
overpower us or cause us to despair. Very likely, there could be a second, or even a third,
wave of the virus. This could happen before a vaccine is available or herd immunity is
achieved. Nevertheless, no matter what transpires, we must not give up or begin to lose faith.
St. Paul reminds us that death entered the world through our first parents.
They sinned by wanting to be gods themselves. It was not enough for them to be God-like
and created in God’s image. They wanted divine autonomy – to be free from the Godhead –
And for this they brought suffering and death to all of their children!
This temptation to be accountable to no one is the same temptation to which
much of our modern world has succumbed even before these present troubled times.
Moreover, that self-serving arrogance is far worse than the virus itself, because it can kill
our soul and destroy our relationship with God. This is the reason St. Paul reminds us
that although we inherited death from Adam and Eve – we now have eternal life through the
gift of Jesus himself!
And so, Brothers and Sisters, let us never lose heart – God knows all things.
God can bring goodness and salvation even in the face of the seeming power of evil.
May we continue to walk with Jesus no matter what lies ahead. And may our hearts and souls
always embrace God who continues to give divine life to us!
June 21, 2020 Msgr. Russell G. Terra
Msgr. Russell G. Terra, Parish Homilies, February 16, 2020
Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Redding, CA