Proclaim from the housetops

Published on 16 Jun 2020
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Do not be afraid.  For everything that is now covered will be uncovered and everything now hidden will be made clear [1].   

Jesus reassures us that fear is banished by the truth.  God in Christ invites us to his way, truth and life [2].  He reveals his true self, inviting us to faith, imitation and a sharing of divine life.  To possess knowledge of God is to be strong in the face of that which frightens us.  The joy of sharing our understanding with others openly, lovingly and persuasively is also something which he confers on us.

Knowledge and truthfulness, which drive out fear, are usually acquired slowly. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops [3].  Jesus schools our heart, enlightens our mind and dwells in our soul.  He speaks to us mostly quietly but sometimes with a clarity which startles us.   Gently and firmly he confronts us with the truth.  The wisdom of God enlightens us.  With understanding comes an increase in trust.  Gradually we are enabled to share with others what the Lord has given us.  With his help, we also learn to cope with the pockets of resistance in ourselves to what has been revealed.  Jesus shows us, in himself, the courage and patience with which to respond to the barriers put up by those with whom we are called to share what we have been given.

Our knowledge of God and the truth of our faith in him do not instantly erase our fears.  The hesitations are deep-seated.  Our anxieties are seemingly endlessly renewable. Terror from every side [4]. The obstacles to our faithful discipleship are not all imaginary.   To be a follower of Christ is to allow our fearfulness to be uncovered in the presence of a saviour who is full of mercy and compassion.  Unveiled is the truth about him and also about us.  He who is the light of the world [5] illuminates every life.  With his guidance we see enough of the way [6] ahead to embark confidently on further service and on the sharing of the Gospel. You never deprive of your guidance those you set firm on the foundation of your love [7].  The Lord strengthens us with sufficient self-knowledge.  You scrutinise the loins and the heart [8].  He nurtures in us alertness to the needs of others and compassion for their suffering.  The saviour deals with our worries about what might go wrong. He walks with us, enduring our difficulties with us. Jesus knows us through and through.  He teaches the truth and listens to it.  It is for you that I suffer taunts, that shame covers my face [9].  Accompanying us, showing us the way, he retraces his road to the Cross.

One persistent fear concerns our personal usefulness for the mission of Christ. Our conviction that God loves us and has called us to himself can be shaken by various falsehoods.   Due gratitude for mercy received can decay into a misleading sense of worthlessness.  The joyful truth of the redemption, a gift, which considerably outweighed the fall [10], and which we long to share with our brothers and sisters, can mutate, during our meditation on it, into a doctrine too difficult to explain or recommend.  We notice, in this collapse of confidence, our own fickleness but also the immensity of the task which has been undertaken.   Our discipleship is a sound vessel, which has been well launched.  This good ship is reliably navigated, not by us.  The Lord is at my side a mighty hero [11].  He is the captain, however he puts us in charge.  When we are on watch, negligent as we sometimes are, the craft is susceptible to being blown off course and even to shipwreck.  Storms intimidate, event though we have, often before, reached a safe haven.

Jesus brings the light of truth to the way he is himself received and to our work on his behalf.  He has chosen us, fully aware of our shortcomings. So there is no need to be afraid [12].  He strengthens us.  If the world rejects him, he does not reject it.  In asking us to share our faith with others, he is clear-eyed about what this might cost.  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul [13].   The Lord’s wisdom and our fears meet in his well-directed encouragement and in our prayerful trust.  The shout from the housetops is made in the sincere hope of being heard.  I burn with zeal for your house [14]. The authenticity of what we live and say, as disciples, is assured not by our own efforts, or even by our fidelity, but by the reliable grace of God.  Divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift [15].  His Spirit speaks for us and guides those who listen to us. Perhaps to our surprise we discover that the struggle with fear is also incorporated into the mission.  All who declare themselves for me in the presence of others, I will declare myself for them in the presence of my Father in heaven [16].  The calming of our anxieties goes in tandem with a new openness to the truth on the part of those to whom we speak. What is proclaimed from the housetops is what the Lord has revealed to us.  Loud and clear also is the trust in him, which he has enabled us to experience and to demonstrate, despite all our worries.

In your great love answer me, O God, with your help that never fails [17].  We give thanks for the truth, which God is all the time conferring on us.  We look forward to the next stages of this enlightenment.  We are glad that our growth in knowledge and understanding is no merely private project.  A community of faith is being built up, founded on truth.  The Lord shares with his disciples all that is needful. He banishes fear.  The world, which only he can save, awaits our service.  Our help has been enlisted.  God, who loves what he has made, presides over our life.  We are already striving to live focused on Christ. Let us lean trustingly on him.   With his support and friendship, we throw ourselves into confident proclamation of all that he has already revealed to us about what is most important.  With humility, we address our brothers and sisters.  Grateful for what the Lord has done for us, we share our faith with those who will listen. Of things visible and invisible[18], we speak out, from the housetops.

Homily by Fr Peter Gallagher SJ

[1]              Matthew 10.26
[2]              John 14.6
[3]              Matthew 10.27
[4]              Jeremiah 20.10
[5]              John 8.12
[6]              Saint John Henry Newman ‘Lead Kindly Light’ 1833 ‘I do not ask to see / The distant scene; one
step enough for me.’
[7]              the Roman Missal, Collect of the Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time
[8]              Jeremiah 20.12
[9]              Psalm (69) 68.7
[10]            Romans 5.15
[11]            Jeremiah 20.11
[12]            Matthew 10.31
[13]            Matthew 10.28
[14]            Psalm (69) 68.9
[15]            Romans 5.15
[16]            Matthew 10.32
[17]            Psalm (69) 68.13
[18]         The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, from article 1