Francis of Assisi
556 South Jersey Street;
Denver, CO 80224
National Catholic Church (PNCC)
St. Francis of Assisi Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) @2008
In the Eleventh Sunday's gospel, Jesus sends out his twelve Apostles on their first mission to their fellow-Jews, known by the Apostles as "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." In the verses that fol¬low the 13th Sunday's text, he gave them practical advice as to how they should behave. Then he foretold that persecution awaited them, first from the leaders of the Jews, and later from kings and governors, when their mission spread to the Gentile world. In today's Gospel, he tells them to proclaim his message fearlessly and openly. They may lose their earthly life for Christ's sake (as they all did except John, who suffered exile and imprisonment), but Christ will be there to welcome them into heaven. He reminds them that God who pro¬vides for the smallest of his creatures, will provide for them too.
Having foretold the sufferings they must expect if they are to preach his gospel to all peoples, he tells them not to fear men, whose power is restricted to this earth only.
The full truth of Christ's real personality—his divine as well as his human nature—and the purpose of his coming, will be fully revealed later, and the folly of the enemies of Christ will be seen in its reality, silly pride.
Christ had to keep both his Messiahship and his divine nature hidden because of his enemies, the priests and Pharisees, until his prepar¬ation and instruction of his disciples were completed. Then he was ready to take the consequences.
At the time appointed, the Apostles are to reveal to the world the person and message of Christ. "the contrast here be¬tween body and soul wouldn’t be understood by a Semite. It’s a Greek concept. The contrast is between the body and the whole person. Man can kill but not destroy someone wholly. God can allow (he doesn’t cause it) someone's total destruction in hell." God's providence and his knowledge of the lowest and least valuable of his creatures are surely proof that he will provide and protect men, especially those devoted to his service as the Apostles were.
Christ states that he will be the intermediary between all men and his Father in heaven. Those who are loyal to him he will introduce to his Father, those who disown him while they are on earth will be told by him to "depart, I know you not," when their life on earth ends he will be the universal judge of all men.
What our Lord said to his Apostles applies to all Christians in the practice of their faith. By the very fact of living our faith openly and fully we are apostles by example. If we are always truthful and faithful to our promises, if we are honest in all our dealings, if as employers we pay a just wage and treat those working for us not as "hands" but as whole men and women, if as employees we give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, if we live chaste lives whether in single life or in marriage, we are true Christians. Above all, if we have true love of God and show our appreciation of all that he has done for us, and if we prove that love, by helping his other children, our neighbors, we are a light shining in the darkness, because we are helping others to see the true meaning of the Christian religion.
This true light is needed more today perhaps than ever before. Our world is three quarters pagan or neo-pagan. The neo-pagans are those who once were Christians but abandoned their religion, sometimes through their own fault, but more often than not, because of the bad example they were given by their fellow Christians. These are worse off spiritually than the pagans who have never heard of Christ or the true God. These latter have at least some idols, some ancestral deities, to whom they pay respect. The neo-pagans have only themselves to venerate, and they can find little spiritual uplift in this form of religion.
A large majority of today's teenagers, in most so-called Christian countries, have come to despise, or at least to neglect, the religion of their ancestors. In most cases the cause of this is that Christianity was never really put into practice in their own homes. There are cases of very bad sheep coming out of very good Christian homes, but these are cases of weak personality—they prefer to follow the mob rather than try to force their way against it. On the whole, the decline of religion among today's youth is due to bad examples from their elders.
There is an awakening among Christians. thank God. The ecumenical movement is one good sign. It was not edifying for the young or the old to see Christians, not only separated from one another but engaged in a cold-war with one another. If there is anything each one of us can do with the aid of God's grace, to help bring about a speedy reunion of all Christians, let us do it. The reform of the liturgy, introduced by the Vatican Council, is another help. The interest shown by the people in it is a healthy sign. The more it is studied, and the more sincerely it is practiced, the stronger will our faith be. In today's gospel message, our Lord is asking each one of us to be a fearless apostle. We will be. if we live up to our religion at home and abroad. "Have no fear of men," he tells us. "don't mind what your fellowmen think of you, if you object to obscene language in your work-place. Don't fear what will be thought of you if you say your grace before and after meals is a public restaurant or hotel. Don't take that extra drink just because your com¬panions at the party might ridicule your control . .."
These acts and many others like them, may seem trivial to some but they are giving testimony to the faith that is in us. Those who scoff at such things at first, may begin later to look into their own hearts, and come to realize what it is to be a person of principle. Eventually they may become people of principle themselves.
Let us remember our Lord's promise: “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven."