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