The Holy Gospel according to Luke (12:1-7).
At that time: So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.
I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection: The very first line of today’s Gospel made me think about this scene as it unfolded before Jesus. Many people were pushing and stepping on one another, trying to get close to Jesus. They wanted to hear what he had to say to the pharisees. Have you ever been in a large crowd of people where something like this happened? This took me back many years ago, the early 1970’s, when Martha and I went to a Rolling Stones concert at the Fabulous Forum. We were caught in the large crowd outside before the doors to the Forum were opened. There was a lot of pushing and shoving. All in the crowd were there for the same thing, to see the Rolling Stones.
In today’s Gospel, many people crowded around Jesus because they wanted to hear what he had to say to the religious authorities. But Jesus addressed his disciples first, but the people heard what he had to say. Jesus was telling them that the pharisees they did not practice what they preached. Jesus called them hypocrites. The pharisees were known for that. They knew the laws and lorded them over the people. They did not do anything to help the people. The pharisees also accused Jesus of violating the laws because he did many things, like curing and helping people, on the Sabbath. As followers of Jesus, we are called to not be like the pharisees. We are called to lead others to Jesus by what we say and do. If we talk the talk, we are to walk the walk. If we fail to do this, it will not be concealed but revealed. We cannot hide from God who will judge us. On the day of my ordination to the diaconate, I was given the Book of the Gospels and told, “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you preach.”
Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy, but it is possible, by praying for the grace and trusting in the Lord. The last line of today’s Gospel is, “Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
Action for the day: As followers of Jesus, we are called to lead others to him, not away from him. Pray for the grace to help us lead by our example of practicing what we preach.