Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection
Reflection for the 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 6-30-22, Year C
Readings: Am 7:10-17; Ps 19:8-11; Gospel Mt 9:1-8
Optional Memorial: The First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Theme: What is Right is Wrong, What is Wrong is Right
Many times, throughout the Gospels, we find Jesus teaching a message counter to the culture of His time. Because of this, He was persecuted for it and called a blasphemer, saying that He was not sanctioned to speak those things per the Jewish temple laws. His messages were in opposition to the current practices and understanding of God’s will for humanity as taught by the Jewish Sanhedrin.
Amos (ministering from 786 -746 B.C.), in a similar way, was persecuted for his prophetic messages against the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos was from the southern kingdom of Judea and came to the land of Israel to warn them of their destruction lest they repent and change their ways. The kingdom of Israel, at that time, was practicing idolatry and injustice against the light granted her by God. He warned that the day of Yahweh would bring not light, but darkness for them. For this, Amos was driven out of the kingdom and the royal court of King Jeroboam. Amos’ prophecies would eventually come true for the northern kingdom and its destruction and the exile of its people.
Like Jesus and Amos, we must be convicted in our faith in what we know of God’s will for us through Jesus’ teachings, even in the light of persecution. It is easy to be swayed by the seemingly convincing arguments of today’s culture, that, in a way, we are our own god and that the practice of relativism, i.e., “you do your thing and I’ll do mine,” is paramount. Christ instructed us to pull aside the person committing sins and admonish them in private. If they do not listen, then gather two or three to help instruct the sinner in the right path. If they still do not listen, then bring them to God in the church (Mt 18:15-16). Bringing the truth to people can bring persecution to us, but, like Jesus and Amos, we must not back down from proclaiming the truth because we fear being persecuted or exiled.
A perfect example of standing up for the truth is the first martyrs of the Holy Roman Church in 64 A.D. when Emperor Nero put to death many Christians in Rome after the burning of the city. Those Christians gave their lives, testifying to the truth of the Gospel and of Christ Himself.
For us today, as Christians spreading the good news of the Gospel, we can be in a similar position as Jesus and Amos were. The teachings of Christ we try to spread are counter to the culture of today and we can be persecuted for it. Yet, the message we spread is the true truth. “What is truth?” Pilot asked Jesus. Little did Pilot know that he was staring at truth itself in the person of Jesus. Stay strong and know that spreading the truth can come with hardships and persecutions, especially from those we would least expect, but more importantly, we are assured of God’s consolation and reward in Heaven for doing so. Find strength in Psalm 57 as you praise God among the peoples and chant His praises among the nations!