‘What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight’
Twelfth Sunday of the Year A
This gospel reading invites us to ponder on the thousands of Christians who have spoken up for their faith at the risk of losing their lives. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
26 Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the house-tops.
28 ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. 30 Why, every hair on your head has been counted. 31 So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.
32 ‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. 33 But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’
Other readings: Jeremiah 20:10-13 Psalm 68 (69) Romans 5:12-15
We continue reading the Missionary Discourse of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus encourages the apostles to speak out and foresees the persecution of the missionaries. He urges the disciples to remember the providential love of God. In words reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount, he points to the Father’s care even for the well-being of sparrows.
At the same time he recognises that great courage is necessary to preach the gospel. It is not easy to shout the truth from the house-tops. It is not easy to declare oneself for Christ in the presence of those who ridicule and mock religion. The gospel reading invites us to ponder on the thousands of Christians who have spoken up for their faith at the risk of losing their lives, not only in distant centuries but also in our own day.
The first reading considers the words of Jeremiah who was persecuted for preaching the truth of God. He speaks of his distress, but also of his trust in the Lord who will protect him. The prophetic mission of Jeremiah and his fidelity amid suffering help us to understand the mission and suffering of Christ.
Our passage from the Letter to the Romans is of great significance. St Paul explains that while our first parents opened the gates for sin to enter into the world, the actions of Jesus Christ brought the free gift of life and salvation.
Do I have the courage to speak up for Christ when others mock my religion?
Do I trust in the providential care of the Father?
We pray for all those who speak up for the Christian message at the risk of their lives.
We pray for faith and courage amid all the difficulties of life.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy