June 18, 2010

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThis year, Father’s Day is observed on June 20 in the United States.

The national observance was first envisioned by a woman while attending services at an Episcopalian church on Mother’s Day in May 1909 in Spokane, Wash.

She thought similar recognition was due to fathers so eventually this day came to be observed in June.

Rare would be the parish liturgy that fails to note Father’s Day, but the Liturgy of the Word was composed for the entire world and for many people who do not observe American holidays.

So the readings are not strictly for Father’s Day, but they coincidentally—or providentially—have a theme that is not far removed from what we venerate in good fatherhood.

The first reading is from the Book of Zechariah.

Born in Babylon during the Captivity in the sixth century B.C., Zechariah was a member of the priestly caste. He began to prophesy as a young man.

He called the people of his time to faithfulness and to obedience to God’s law. He also reminded the people of God’s love and goodness.

This reading refers to an unnamed victim of the destruction of Jerusalem. This victim will be greatly mourned. The victim was uncompromisingly true to God.

Pious Christians have seen in the reading a reflection of Jesus, the Son of God and Redeemer, who was loyal to God to the end.

Next, the Church presents a lesson from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

It states that each person is a child of God because each person, through the Incarnation, is a human brother or sister of Jesus. Each believer has been “clothed” with Christ, intimately and indelibly bonded with God in Christ.

St. Luke’s Gospel is the source of the last reading.

In this passage, Jesus asks how the Apostles view him. Peter replies that Jesus is “the Messiah of God” (Lk 9:20).

Peter’s confession on faith in Jesus reveals two important catechetical points.

The first point is that Peter spoke for the Twelve. The Gospel recorded Peter’s statement.

Secondly, Peter was inspired and wise enough to recognize Jesus. The four Gospels provide evidence of Peter’s importance in the unfolding of salvation in Jesus.

The Lord then declares that true discipleship is more than a warm feeling of somehow vaguely being connected with Jesus or admiring Jesus.

Instead, true discipleship is a wholehearted identification with the Lord, verified by literally walking with Christ through the difficulties of life.

Each true disciple must also carry the cross as Jesus carried the cross.


In the United States, we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend. The readings provide an idea of the goodness to us of God, the eternal Father.

The first reading was from Zechariah. Born when Jews were held in captivity in a foreign, hostile environment, Zechariah benefited from being in the generation that was released from this captivity and was able to return to the Jewish homeland.

He and his contemporaries never saw this release as the result of mere luck or coincidence. Rather, in their minds, God had rescued them.

Galatians obliquely refers to God’s love. God sent Jesus to humanity.

In Jesus, humans can become nothing less than heirs to eternal peace. In Jesus, humans become brothers and sisters of the Son of God—with God their Father in a most special sense.

St. Luke’s Gospel further describes Jesus as God’s gift.

As spoken by Peter, the Lord is the Messiah. He frees us from our sin.

God loves us as a perfect, loving, forgiving and providing Father. However, God’s love does not drag us away from ourselves.

We must turn to God with true conviction. We must even carry the cross on occasion.

Carrying the cross is a struggle. Nevertheless, our loving Father assists us with the divine help of Jesus, and our loving Father awaits us with everlasting life at the end of our earthly struggle. †

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