A reflection for the Second Sunday after Trinity

Reading: Matthew 10: 24-39

‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! ‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For 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; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever 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; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Reflection for the Second Sunday after Trinity

Today’s gospel reading contains some of the so-called ‘hard words’ of Jesus. These words, spoken by Our Lord to his disciples, follow immediately after his warning to them about coming persecution. Here, he spoke to them about the conflict they would face as his followers when they went out into the world to proclaim the gospel.

If they were to be faithful to their calling as his disciples, they would need to be prepared to make difficult choices which could bring them into conflict with their communities and their families. Some of them would pay the ultimate price with their lives because they chose the way of Christ. Jesus demanded nothing less of them: ‘whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me’.

They are sobering words, reminding us of the struggle faced by many of the first Christians and by countless others down through the ages. Nevertheless, in the midst of these dire warnings and call to sacrificial living come words of great comfort and reassurance which must have inspired those who suffered for their faith: ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows’. God knows each one of us intimately; he cares deeply for us and nothing can separate us from his love. If God cares deeply for persecuted and oppressed people, then this ought to concern us too.

Sadly today, in parts of the world, people still suffer for their faith. In some places they are denied freedom to worship or face penalties for practising their faith, while sometimes they face a more subtle form of discrimination. During the present COVID-19 pandemic, we were informed about difficulties faced by some Christians in a village in Pakistan. Unable to work due to the lockdown, they could not access food aid and an appeal was launched to help them, which can be found on this website, with a link to the Gofundme appeal: Christians in Pakistan COVID-19 Food Crisis Relief.

During the lockdown, we have missed being able to meet as a community and worship God in our church buildings, but thankfully we have had other opportunities to connect with church through broadcast or online services. Soon we hope to return to church, but for the time being, there will be some restrictions which we will all have to get used to. Let us be thankful for our freedom to worship and let us remember to support and pray for others who are denied that freedom.

Collect for the Second Sunday after Trinity

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
Send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Prayers of intercession

God our Father,
We thank you for the privilege we enjoy in this country
to meet as a community to worship you.
Teach us to value that freedom and to be mindful of people
who are denied that freedom or who face persecution and oppression.
Protect them from all harm and assure them of your love.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

As we prepare to reopen our church buildings for worship
we pray for all who lead worship and preach your word.
Bless Pat, our bishop, and the people and clergy of this diocese.
We pray for those who are unable to attend church
through ill health, age or infirmity.
Help them to know that you are present with them always.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We pray for the family, colleagues and friends of Detective Garda Colm Horkan
as they mourn his death while serving his local community.
We pray for the people of Castlerea and for his hometown in Co. Mayo.
Comfort and support all who grieve and protect all members of the Gardaí
as they carry out their duties on behalf of the citizens of our country.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who work in our health service.
We pray for doctors, nurses and all frontline workers
who care for the ill and vulnerable.
We pray for strength and guidance for all who are engaged
in medical research to find a cure to the coronavirus.
Give wisdom to all who devise and implement health policy across our land.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who have suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic remembering the sick, those in hospitals, at home or in nursing homes.
We pray for all who are undergoing medical treatment
and all who struggle daily with their health.
Grant them your peace, strength and healing.
We pray for all who mourn the loss of loved ones.
Comfort and support them in their grief.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We pray for our elected representatives and for the parties in the process
of forming a government. Give them wisdom and guidance to exercise
power with responsibility and integrity, for the welfare of all people.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We pray for our schools and young people and their families.
We remember all children who have been unable to attend school
or participate in sport or other activities.
We pray for those leaving secondary school who will be assessed on their work.
Help them not to be anxious or worried about their future.
Be with all teachers as they prepare for the reopening of schools
and as they cope with new circumstances.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all evermore. Amen.

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