The readings for this coming Sunday (20th Sunday in Ordinary Time) are a stark reminder that it is not the norm for followers of God to be accepted by the world. Sometimes we feel like maybe we are doing something wrong and that is why the world is not accepting the Gospel.
In the first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah we hear that people did not like what the prophet was telling the people so they threw him into a cistern in which there was no water and Jeremiah, “…sunk into the mud.” In the Gospel Jesus tells us that being a disciple of His will lead to division and conflict.
We have become accustomed to living in a culture that was positively disposed toward Christians, one could even argue that Christianity was prized and promoted by the culture. That is really not the case anymore. In fact, it is not too hard to imagine a time when being a disciple of Jesus will bring us into conflict with the law. We already experience, to some degree or another, the sting of a soft or passive antipathy toward Christianity. It may manifest itself as a funny look, a snide comment, exclusion from certain activities with certain people or other ways.
Be not afraid! The fact that the world rejects us because we belong to Christ may be new to us, but it is not an anomaly. One could argue that it is the norm. Jesus told us to not be surprised when the world, which rejected Him, rejects us. In fact, we should be surprised if the world accepts us.
Do we feel like we are sinking into the mud like Jeremiah did? By virtue of our baptism we are prophets of the Most High. We are called to be Christ to a wounded world even when we are thrown into the mud and face division, derision and ridicule.
— Pat Arensberg is the Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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