Lector's Notes

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

The reading is challenging for the lector because it contains three voices and three addressees. There is the overall narrator, there is Jeremiah himself, and there are his enemies. The narrator tells us “Jeremiah said,” Jeremiah tells us “I hear my enemies saying …,” and the enemies say to one another, “Let us denounce him.” Some of what Jeremiah says seems to be spoken to himself or to the narrator. But then there are the sentences Jeremiah speaks directly to God.You can help the assembly understand this by the way you intone it or the way you phrase it. The more challenging path is to try to speak (intone, if you will) each different speaker’s lines in a different register of your voice. If that seems daunting, try pausing before each change of speaker. It would be OK to make light pencil marks in the book you’ll be reading from, if that will help you remember where to pause or change your tone. In any case, read the passage to yourself several times, noting where the changes come.

Second Reading

The passage speaks directly of the contrast between death (from Adam) and life (from Jesus), and you should try to bring out that contrast with your voice while proclaiming it. There is also a hint of what Paul expounds elsewhere in Romans (and Galatians as well as other letters), the contrast between the Law that condemns and the faith that liberates.

Introductions

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

About 600 years before Jesus, Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem. Political intrigue and religious laxity had corrupted the society. For speaking the truth about it, the prophet made enemies, and he speaks of them now.

Second Reading

Saint Paul speaks of the differences between Adam and the Risen Jesus. He applies these differences to life under the old Law of Moses and our new life in Christ.

Gospel

Concern for their honor made ancient Middle-Eastern people practice much secrecy and deception. Jesus predicts a new openness and requires truthfulness on the part of his disciples.

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Jeremiah 20:10-13

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by Rembrandt c. 1630
Reflection by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Confessions of Jeremiah

FIRST READING—Jeremiah has often been called a “reluctant” prophet. When God calls Jeremiah, he tells God that he is not much of a talker. But once he says ‘Yes’ to God’s call, he speaks what he feels God wants him to say, even if his message enrages religious and civil leaders and his own peers. He has to frequently call the leaders and people to repentance of infidelity to their covenant with God.

Today’s reading is an excerpt from what is called the “Confessions of Jeremiah” – a revelation of the personal anguish the prophet experiences in his soul as he carries out his ministry (e.g., “Why is God allowing all this bad stuff to happen to me?”). Jeremiah is being persecuted by the people for his unwelcome words. They cry out: “Denounce, let us denounce him!” We can almost feel Jeremiah’s sense of rejection. But his trust is in God, his mighty champion.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples not to let fear intimidate them but to place their trust in God. Jeremiah is a wonderful example of someone who acts on this Word of Jesus. We also notice how Jeremiah has no problem asking God to avenge his persecutors, “Let me witness the vengeance you take on them.”

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Further Study

Jeremiah trusts in God’s Justice

In the First Reading, the 6th century BC prophet Jeremiah confesses his fears in his mission as God’s emissary to the nation of Judah.  He is faithful in delivering God’s messages of repentance and judgment to the covenant people.  However, he is opposed and rejected by his countrymen, and even his friends ridiculed him.  Despite his hardships and sorrows, Jeremiah writes that he continues to praise Yahweh, who is his mighty champion, and he trusts in God’s justice.

Poetry of Jeremiah's psalm

The poetry of Jeremiah’s psalm in verses 7-13 is comparable to a toda/todah psalm.  Like other toda (a Hebrew word meaning “thanksgiving”) psalms, it begins with Jeremiah recounting his suffering at the hands of his enemies, and it ends with a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for Yahweh’s protection and his salvation in his time of distress.  Some of the most beautiful of the toda psalms are Davidic psalms, most famously Psalm 22, the first verse of which Jesus quoted from the cross when He cried out: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus’ quote from Psalm 22:1 is often misinterpreted as a cry of despair when it is instead a reference to David’s hymn of faith and belief in the power of God to overcome evil.  Jeremiah’s psalm ends with the same profession of praise and thanksgiving.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jeremiah's sufferings

Jeremiah described himself as being seduced and overpowered by the Lord to take up his prophetic mission (20:7).  He confesses that he could not resist submitting to the will of God.  There were three kinds of sufferings Jeremiah describes in association with his mission in verse 10:

  1. People ridicule him.
  2. People renounce his prophecies.
  3. Even his friends watch for his downfall in being proved wrong.
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
God's promise of divine protection

In verses 11-13, Jeremiah’s focus shifts to Yahweh, his protector.  Jeremiah ends his psalm with the invitation to join him in singing praise to Yahweh, who has delivered his soul from the hands of his enemies.  Notice that so confident is Jeremiah’s trust and faith in God to keep His promise of divine protection (first promised in his call to a prophetic ministry in Jeremiah 1:17-19), that he uses the past tense in thanking Yahweh in advance for his deliverance in verse 13.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jeremiah's example for all Christians

Jeremiah’s faith in God and his demonstration of courage amid ridicule and rejection is an example for all Christians. God also calls us to remain faithful to our commissioning as apostles of Jesus Christ that we received in the Sacrament of Confirmation. We, like Jeremiah, must have faith and trust in God the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us when we profess our belief in Jesus as our Lord and Savior to members of our family, to our neighbors, in the workplace, and to the world. We must take courage in knowing that God will protect us, and the reward for such faith and confidence in Him is eternal!

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Ps 69

Reflection by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Lord, in your great love, answer me

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—This is a psalm of lament used during a worship service by an individual undergoing a time of personal suffering. It clearly echoes Jeremiah’s experience of rejection.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Further Study

Jeremiah’s experience of rejection

In the Responsorial Psalm, the psalmist is greatly distressed and makes an appeal to God for his deliverance. He says that the cause of his suffering is his zeal for God’s holy Temple and the defense of His Holy Name. He mourns that this is the cause of his estrangement from his countrymen and his children.

In this psalm, the Fathers of the Church saw the distress Jesus experienced during His earthly ministry. Many of His countrymen rejected Him and His message. He became an outcast and a prisoner when His countrymen delivered Him to the Romans to be condemned and to suffer death by crucifixion like a common criminal. Like the psalmist, God heard Jesus’ prayer and delivered Him from the bonds of death.

Psalm as quoted in New Testament

The Gospel of John quoted from this psalm when Jesus cleansed the Jerusalem Temple of profane merchants selling animals and exchanging coinage (Jn 2:13-17).  Jesus’ disciples recalled the verse from the Greek translation of Psalm 60:10, zeal for your house will consume me in John 2:17.

In Romans 15:3, St. Paul quotes the last words of verse 9 and attributes them to the suffering of Jesus in His Passion that Christians should unite to their own sufferings: For Christ did not please himself; but as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you will fall upon me.”

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Fathers of the Church: Suffering of Jesus

Like St. John and St. Paul, the Fathers of the Church interpreted Psalm 69 as a prophetic prayer related to the suffering Jesus endured in His humanity.  The suffering Jesus experienced during His ministry also resulted from His “zeal for the Lord,” causing many of His countrymen to reject Him and make Him an outcast.  In their commentaries, the Church Fathers linked Jesus’ suffering as a condemned prisoner on the cross in His humanity to Psalm 69.

St. Athanasius wrote that God heard Jesus prayer, and quoted Psalm 69:34,  the Lord hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not applying the verse to Christ (St. Athanasius, Expositiones in Psalmos, 68).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Uniting our sufferings to Christ

The Lord God is attentive to our cries for deliverance from our sufferings when we united our sufferings to those of the crucified Christ. Our sufferings united to Christ have value and count toward our eternal salvation because, on “the last day,” God will raise us from death just as He raised His Son.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Romans 5:12-15

Reflection by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Paul contrasts Adam to Christ

SECOND READING—For the next 12 weeks, our second reading will be from the Letter of Paul to the Romans.

The opening verse: “Through one man, sin entered the world…” is the basis of the Catholic Church’s doctrine on original sin as taught by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century.

Paul contrasts Adam (the cause of sin) to Christ (the cause of grace). Whereas the universality of sin springs from the disobedience of Adam, the super-abundance of grace flows from Christ.

Adam’s sin unleashed as it were a ‘sin force’ into the world. Because of Adam’s sin, we are born flawed and with a proclivity to sin. We know that sin is present in our world and in our family tree when we see children emulating the misdeeds and imperfections of their parents and of society. Sin is also manifest in the greed and self-centeredness that prevail in our world today. But the grace that comes to us in the sacraments and in other ways is, of course, greater than the sin we have to deal with.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Further Study

Jesus Christ the Second Adam

In the Second Reading, St. Paul addresses the origin of sin and death and the effect the first man’s (Adam) sin had on all humanity. Adam was our human father, and as a consequence of his rebellion against God, we have inherited physical death and a ruptured relationship with our Divine Father just as we inherit our other genes and traits of human inheritance. Through our first parents, we are born physically alive but spiritually separated from God. We inherited the tendency to sin, which causes the life-long struggle to resist Satan and the temptation to yield to wrongdoing. Jesus is the second Adam, who frees us from bondage to sin in the Sacrament of Baptism when we are spiritually reborn as children in the family of God.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Origin of sin and death

In Romans 5:12-21, Paul addresses the origin of sin and death and how the first man’s (Adam) sin affected all humanity.  Adam is our human father, and because of his sin of rebellion against God, we inherited from him both physical and spiritual death just as we inherit our other genes and traits of human inheritance.  Through our first parents, we are born physically alive but spiritually dead.  It is spiritual death that infects us with sin and causes the life-long struggle to resist Satan and the temptation to sin.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Why did Satan set out to destroy humankind?

The issue of humanity’s fall from grace (Gen 3) raises the question: “Why did Satan set out to destroy humankind?”    The inspired writer of the Book of Wisdom writes in Gen 2:24, Death came into the world only through the Devil’s envy, as those who belong to him find to their cost.  Envy/jealousy motivated Cain to murder his brother Abel (Gen 4:3-8).  It was the same sin that Satan used to bring the “brothers/countrymen” of Jesus who were under his power to condemn Jesus to death: For Pilate knew it was out of jealousy that they handed him over (Mt 27:18; also see Mk 15:10; 1 Jn 3:11-12; Heb 11:4).

The inspired writer of the Book of Wisdom interpreted the fall of Adam and its consequences for humanity in Genesis Chapter 3.  He wrote that the death introduced by the devil is spiritual death, with physical death as its consequence: For God did not make Death, he takes no pleasure in destroying the living.  To exist—for this he created all things; the creatures of the world have health in them, in them is no fatal poison, and Hades has no power over the world: for uprightness is immortal (Wis 1:13-15).  As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in usurping God’s power and authority through their desire to judge good and evil for themselves (Gen 3:5), they “died” to sin, and sin came to “live” in humanity with the consequence that spiritual and physical death became the “reward” of sin.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Original sin

That sin first entered the world through the actions of our first parents is the doctrine of “original sin.”  The Church calls the temptation to sin, which is a result of original sin, concupiscence.  In turning to the doctrine of original sin, St. Paul draws a contrast between the temptation and fall from grace, or the “work” of the “first Adam,” with the One he prefigured, Jesus of Nazareth the “second Adam” and His “work” of redemption.  Jesus became the Savior of all the children of Adam through the Sacrament of Baptism.  All those baptized in the name of the Trinity become freed from the inheritance of sin and are reborn as children of God.  It is because of the stain of original sin that humankind needs a Redeemer (see CCC 389, 396, 404-05, and 421).

Returning to his theme in Romans 2:12, Paul insists that the presence or absence of the Law does not make a fundamental difference since sin and its by-product “death” comes to everyone through the legacy of sin that we inherited from our original parents.  Whether we are Gentiles who live outside the Law of Moses or Jews who live within the Law, original sin is our inheritance.  It is for this reason that Paul writes: Nonetheless, death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sin was not the breaking of a commandment, as Adam’s was.  He prefigured the One who was to come.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
First and second Adams contrasted

So, how did Adam prefigure Jesus of Nazareth?  In 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, St. Paul writes that Jesus is the “second Adam” whose obedience and sacrificial death on the cross undo Adam’s disobedience.  Jesus, the Second Adam, triumphed over the same temptations to which the first Adam fell into sin.  St. John identified these temptations as the lusts of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life in 1 John 2:16 (see CCC# 411 & 504).

TEMPTATION: The first and second Adams contrasted:
1 John 2:16 Genesis 3:6 Luke 4:1-13
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father finds no place in him The First Adam: Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees Second Adam = Jesus of Nazareth: Then the devil said to Him
the lust of the flesh:
disordered bodily desires
The woman saw the tree was good to eat tell this stone to turn into a loaf
the lust of the eyes:
disordered desires of the eyes
and pleasing to the eye, and the devil … showed Him all the kingdoms of the world
the pride of life:
pride in possession
that it was enticing for the wisdom that it could give. If you are the Son …throw Yourself down from here
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Adam and Christ as alike and unalike
In Romans 5:15 Paul contrasts Adam and Christ as “alike” but “unalike”: 
ADAM AND CHRIST ALIKE ADAM AND CHRIST UNALIKE
Both Adam and Christ affected the whole human race Sin and death came from Adam while righteousness and life came from Christ
Both endured the temptation of Satan Adam failed, and Christ was victorious
Through both Adam and Christ, humanity receives an “inheritance.” Through Adam’s failure, humanity inherits death, original sin and personal sin becomes a plague on humanity. Through Christ’s victory, humanity inherits adoption into God’s family and the promise of eternal life.
Both were human men Jesus was both human and divine
Both the acts of Adam and Jesus invoke a divine verdict. Satan stood behind the act of Adam while the grace of God stood behind Christ; the verdict behind Adam’s act is judgment while the verdict behind Jesus’ is acquittal.
Both Adam and Jesus exercised their free will. Adam willingly fell from grace, and Jesus willingly laid down His life in sacrifice for all humanity.
Both were born into the world as sinless and immortal beings. Adam lost his immortality when he fell from grace.  Jesus remained pure and sinless, and through His sacrifice and Resurrection has made God’s gift of immortality once again available to humanity.

It is in the Sacrament of Baptism that elevates you from being a fallen child of Adam to being supernaturally infused with the life of the Most Holy Trinity in a spiritual rebirth as a child in the family of God!

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Matthew 10:26-33

Reflection by Fr. Eamon Tobin

God’s care for each of us

GOSPEL— Jesus is well aware of the many challenges that will face all who choose to follow him in faith and preach in his name. A little earlier he says: “I am sending you like sheep among wolves” (Mt.10:16). Jesus gives an exhortation that will be recalled in the future when the Church will face persecution: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”

In order to underline his message to “not be afraid,” Jesus uses two images to speak of God’s care for each of us. He says: “If God cares for sparrows” (regarded as the least of all animals) and “if God numbers even the hairs of our head” (assuming we still have some ), how much more will he care for us who are more than many sparrows?” Then he adds a solemn warning: “Whoever denies (Jesus) before others will be denied by his heavenly Father.” In the verse: “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known,” the thing hidden is probably a reference to the teaching of Jesus. In time, his disciples will proclaim from the housetops what was previously whispered.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Further Study

Jesus Urges His Disciples to have Courage when faced with Persecution

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus commands His disciples not to be afraid. He urges them not to keep His teachings about His Kingdom to themselves. The message of the good news of the Kingdom of the Messiah is to be a public proclamation and not the valued secret of a few. Jesus warns that salvation is only through Him, and acknowledging Him as Savior and Lord by proclaiming our belief in Him to others is a condition of our discipleship.

Body and soul

28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

The “body” is a perishable shell, and the “soul” that is immortal is one’s real self.  Other human beings can destroy one’s impermanent body, but only God has power over life and death eternally.  Do not fear other men and don’t even fear Satan, but have the reverent fear of God that leads to a righteous life and the fear of offending Him.  Satan’s home is the fiery pit, or as Jesus calls Satan’s abode, Gehenna.  However, it is also the place of final punishment for the lost souls who reject God’s sovereignty and over which God exercises ultimate power and authority.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Sparrows

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?  Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.  30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  

Sparrows were the cheapest meat that one could buy at the market and were eaten by the poor.  They are worth hardly anything in material terms, and yet even the death of a sparrow is God’s concern.  The point of Jesus’ comparison between a person and a sparrow is if God cares for the sparrows that He created, then He will care even more about men and women who are His masterpiece of Creation made in His image.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Condition for discipleship

32 Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.  But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

Jesus’ warning is that salvation is only through the Redeemer-Messiah, who is God the Son.  For us to acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord to others is a condition of discipleship.  If we proclaim Him before others, it is Jesus’ solemn promise that He will stand as our divine Advocate before the judgment throne of God the Father.  When our life on earth comes to an end, and we receive divine judgment according to our faith and works, Jesus will give evidence on our behalf.  It is a promise you cannot afford to ignore because there is too much at stake; what is at stake is your life in eternity.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Reflection Questions

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way? Which part of the Passion story speaks to you most this year? Why?

2. Can you recall a time or experience when God was with you like a ‘mighty champion’? Have you ever asked God to strike down those who have hurt you grievously?

3. What can strike fear into your heart? What helps you deal with fear?

4. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.


Responding to God’s Word

Be aware of where fear rules in your life and seek to combat it with courage and trust in God.

Praying with the Word

Lord, you know when fear strikes my heart, I find it hard to combat it with trust in you. Fill me with the courage and trust I need to deal with what frightens me.

Closing Prayer

Lord, we ask you to deliver usfrom fear of the unknown future: from fear of failure, from fear of poverty, from fear of bereavement, from fear of loneliness, from fear of sickness and pain, from fear of age, andfrom fear of death. Help us, Father, by your grace to love you above all, and to fear nothing. Fill our hearts with cheerful courageand loving trust in you. Through our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.Amen.

SUNDAY VOICES

Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.


Introduction to 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time readings

INTRODUCTION — Suffering is real, even for those who are called by God. The prophets, the disciples, Christians from the very beginning often paid a price for responding to the call. We may understand this more readily in times of persecution or political unrest or observe it in other faith traditions. When have we had to overcome fear because of our faith? Even choosing to live a Gospel life may overwhelm us. Fear is death-dealing, and all great spiritual teachers counsel against it. Jesus said it often: Don’t be afraid.
PENITENTIAL ACT

Lord Jesus, you counseled your disciples to speak and act boldly: Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you assured them of God’s love for them: Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you call us, too, to live our faith without fear: Lord, have mercy.

NCR SUNDAY RESOURCESJoan DeMerchant


The lesson of the rattlesnake

EXCERPT – All fear is bondage. If we let fear control us, it robs us of our freedom to act. It paralyzes us. It sets us in a vicious circle, where we keep knowing the things that we should do but somehow never find the power to do them. How do we break this bondage of fear? How do we short-circuit this vicious circle that keeps robbing us of our life? We have to reach outside of ourselves. As those in AA would say, we have to find a higher power. This is what Jesus is talking about in today’s gospel. Three times in the gospel he says, “Do not be afraid.” (2015)

RELATED HOMILIES BY FR. SIGMA: Noticing the details of life (2008), The problem with sparrows (2017)

BUILDING ON THE WORDFr. George Sigma


What the prophet Jeremiah can teach us about trusting in God, even when it’s hard

EXCERPT — There are many thought-provoking passages in Jeremiah that reflect the prophet’s mental states and attitudes during his prophetic career. Today we hear about his haters. In the first reading, Jeremiah describes the attacks that he experiences because of his community’s discontent with his prophetic message. People whisper about him, denounce him and even his friends watch as he stumbles. Although he faces negativity, Jeremiah frames these negative experiences as tests of his righteousness to see if he would remain faithful to God even during difficult moments. While struggling, Jeremiah expresses his faith in God as his defender. Likewise, he recognizes that God takes care of those who are most in need. As many people continue to struggle and may at times feel under attack, Jeremiah reminds us to seek refuge in the Lord.

AMERICA MAGAZINEJamie Waters


Our fears are baseless because God loves us

EXCERPT – If the Father is concerned over even one sparrow who falls to the ground, this animal of so little value, surely the Fatherwill care for you whom he loves so profoundly. Why do you fear, then? The one and only fear that disciples are entitled to is fear of sin. No real harm can cometo anyone except through sin. Sin will incur the wrathof God; nothing else will. If we do not sin, we are safe, since God himself punishes sin with eternal damnation. Again, Matthew uses the qal wahomerdevice:everyone knows that disciples of Christ do not sin! So, what is there to fear? The concludingverses use thefamiliar scene of a courtroom where people are charged with misdeeds,where evidence for or against them is heard, where a judgment is handed down. Jesus himself will be our witness there if we have been faithful to him. What a consolation that is for the ones who have been faithful! How terrible it would be for those who have betrayed Christ and have risked that he will now stand before God to charge them with that unspeakable crime!

Echoing God’s WordSRev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017)


What does Jesus mean, “I will not leave you orphans”

EXCERPT – The all-important context for today’s gospel (Matt 10:26-33) is the missionary instruction that Jesus is giving to the twelve apostles. Jesus is firm in his assertion that persecution and division will be their lot. This will come from “outsiders” who do not accept Jesus, and even “insiders” within their own families (as well as those who claim to be followers of Jesus but still believe and live like pagans). Not once does Jesus even hint that being his disciple will be an easy task.Three times Jesus tells the apostles not to be afraid. Fear is sand in the machinery of life. It is False Evidence Appearing Real Wherein we have fear we are not trusting God.

MASS HOMILIESDeacon Joseph Pasquella (Confraternity of Penitents)


Providence

EXCERPT – The objects of our fears usually have names: something, some event, some person. They are the things we worry or fret over: the precious possessions we might, like Job, be divested of; the health of body that, like Job’s, could disappear; the loved ones we might lose. We know the threats we fear. We see them in nightmares, muster our forces against them, plan our defenses and counterattacks. Yet in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus advises us not to fear the things or people who can harm the body. God attends to the needs of the sparrow, knowing every one that drops to the ground. As for us, every hair on our head is counted. We are not to worry.

SUNDAY WEB SITEFather John Kavanaugh, SJ

THIS WEEK’S CATECHISM EXCERPTS

Visit Doctrinal Homily Outlines for further commentary and catechetical connections.

“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.”

From the Homiletic Directory
CCC 852: the Spirit of Christ sustains the Christian mission
CCC 905: evangelizing by the example of life
CCC 1808, 1816: courageous witness of faith overcomes fear and death
CCC 2471-2474: bear witness to the truth
CCC 359, 402-411, 615: Adam, Original Sin, Christ the New Adam

Adam, Original Sin, Christ the New Adam

359 “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear.”224

St. Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men: Adam and Christ. . . The first man, Adam, he says, became a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. The first Adam was made by the last Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him life. . . The second Adam stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him. That is why he took on himself the role and the name of the first Adam, in order that he might not lose what he had made in his own image. The first Adam, the last Adam: the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. The last Adam is indeed the first; as he himself says: “I am the first and the last.”225

The consequences of Adam’s sin for humanity

402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”289 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”290

403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the “death of the soul”.291 Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.292

404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”.293 By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” – a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

406 The Church’s teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine’s reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God’s grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam’s fault to bad example. The first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529)296 and at the Council of Trent (1546).297

A hard battle. . .

407 The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man’s situation and activity in the world. By our first parents’ sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails “captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil”.298 Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action299 and morals.

408 The consequences of original sin and of all men’s personal sins put the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John’s expression, “the sin of the world”.300 This expression can also refer to the negative influence exerted on people by communal situations and social structures that are the fruit of men’s sins.301

409 This dramatic situation of “the whole world [which] is in the power of the evil one”302 makes man’s life a battle:

The whole of man’s history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God’s grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity.303

IV. “YOU DID NOT ABANDON HIM TO THE POWER OF DEATH”

410 After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall.304 This passage in Genesis is called the Protoevangelium (“first gospel”): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers.

411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.305 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.306

412 But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, “Christ’s inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon’s envy had taken away.”307 And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’; and the Exsultet sings, ‘O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'”308

Jesus substitutes his obedience for our disobedience

615 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”443 By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin“, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”.444 Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.445


SOURCES/CREDITS:
Fr. Tobin Commentary Text: ©2019 Fr. Eamon Tobin, Commentaries & Faith Sharing PDF Handout. Images, videos, scripture verses, and other material which accompany Fr. Tobin’s text are curated by LectioTube.com. They do not necessarily reflect Fr. Tobin’s opinions or preferences. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission.
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