Jesus said to his disciples in today’s gospel reading, “for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.” (Matthew 10:26)
What are we to do in response to these revelations of the truth of our current realities in our nation and world?
Our response is certainly not to deny the revealed realities, nor to stick our heads in the sand as if to pretend it’s not all happening.
Listen again to what Jesus has to say, “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)
Our days beckon, and Jesus commands, that we be bold and courageous in truth-telling.
Here’s where the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah is instructive. The prophet proclaims: “7O LORD, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. 8For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, ‘Violence and destruction!’ For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:7-9)
There is within us “something like a burning fire shut up in [our] bones; [we are] weary holding it in, and [we] cannot.” We are compelled to tell the truth.
But such truth telling can surely get us into hot water, into trouble. Again, listen to what Jesus has to say about this: 34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:34-38) And yet, despite all this scary stuff, repeatedly in today’s reading, Jesus tells us not to be afraid – three times, in fact. That’s easy for him to say – don’t be afraid of all the ugly things that might happen to you when you forthrightly speak the truth!
Where do we summon the courage to speak the truth with boldness, when doing so can get us into terrifying trouble?
For a response to this troubling query, I turn now to the words of the Apostle Paul from the second reading for today from his letter to the Romans where he lays the groundwork for our confidence. Paul says, “3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his…. 8If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:3-5, 8-11)
In Christ and because of his resurrection victory, death, along with all its related horrors, no longer has dominion over us or anyone or anything. If that is the bedrock reality, the spiritual earth beneath our feet, what then, when it’s all said and done, do we have to fear? The baptized share in Christ’s victorious resurrection such that death no longer has victory, and it has lost its sting. That is the objective reality that is the source of our courage boldly to speak gospel truth.
Martin Luther certainly was one to speak truth boldly and shamelessly. When Luther wavered – and he did frequently – he would make the sign of the cross and reassure himself with these words: “I am baptized.”
Which is another way of saying, whatever we fear in life or death “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39b)
Baptized into Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, may we boldly speak truth about what is being revealed in our apocalyptic times – for the healing of the nations, for the healing of all people, and for the healing of all of God’s creation. Amen.
This is a lot to take in, to reverberate with, to absorb. So here are some questions for you to reflect on and have conversation about, that you may incorporate God’s liberating word into your life and your own walk of faith:
- What realities do you see unveiled in our current crises?
- What truth do you feel compelled to speak and to whom?
- What trouble might such truth-telling get you into and with whom?
- What particular gospel promises give you the courage to speak out?
God in Christ bless your reflections and holy conversations in the power of the Spirit.