20th Sunday in Ordinary Time C22
Recently there were inductions to both the Baseball and Football Halls of Fame. As a New Englander living and being assigned north of I-84 (Red Sox Nation) I was interested to hear Big Papi’s and the Patriot Richard Sherman’s speeches. Both said the fans cheering them on gave them focus, determination, and the extra incentive to play their best. All athletes depend on fan reaction. If they are not performing at their best, they are discouraged by boo’s and, if the fans still support them, they become more determined; if they’re playing well, they try push themselves even harder.
As Catholic Christians, we have our own fan base: a cloud of witnesses in heaven and a crowd of witnesses here on earth. They too cheer for us to encourage us not give up to discouragement on our journey of faith. They provide examples of steadfastness to make us more determined and call us to focus wholeheartedly on our goal, to cross the finish line, to make it to home plate, to reach the end zone, to achieve success.
Of course there will be obstacles whether they are upsets, injuries from or to others, sins or other hardships. The saints and martyrs have had them too, but persisted. Look at Jeremiah today. He was put in stocks, dropped down a cistern to die, stuck in mud, mocked, shunned, and eventually taken forcibly to Egypt where he died at the hands, it was rumored, of his countrymen. But he never stopped telling the truth to those who didn’t want to accept the reality of being conquered by a foreign power as a punishment for their breaking of the Covenant.
Observe Jesus. Jesus was no wimp nor could he be apolitical. He challenged the religious leaders and the political establishment by his words and deeds. He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem (Lk.9:51) where the prophets died before him. He knew his message threatened powerful people be they religious or governmental officials. But he also believed in his message of judgment through purifying fire would prevail.
The prophets and saints who make up the cloud of witnesses implore us, the prophets and saints today, to continue the necessary work of telling the truth to power whether political or religious. They support us when we continue working for the common good; when we not give into the false gods of power and greed; and when we make the kingdom of God more apparent in this world of ours.
And our fan base is saying, “Way to go!” and continues cheering us on.