12th Sunday in Ordinary Time  
  Given on June 25, 2017 at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton, California
    A great deal of our attention at the moment is focused on the world of politics and government and the bitter enmities that are contending in full battle array. This morning I would invite every one to take a step back and look closely at Jesus' words in today's gospel. Basically Jesus is saying to us that we should not be afraid and that we should place our trust in God's care for us. "So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." And if you acknowledge your trust and confidence in God you will be rewarded. "Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father."
    To follow Jesus, to be a Christian requires a twofold action on our part: to love Jesus in our hearts, in our consciences, and to profess this love by our external actions.
    Anyone who says that being a Christian is simply an internal matter of the heart, a spiritual reality, does not know Jesus. Christianity requires acknowledging Christ in every dimension of our lives. It cannot be restricted to private prayer or gathering in church on Sunday. It must have an impact on every aspect of our human existence. We must carry our faith wherever we go and let it influence us in the world of business, in political life, in education, in health care, in the media and in our lives of leisure. We acknowledge God when we are honest in our business dealings and reject greed; We acknowledge God when the social teachings of the Church affect our political perspective; we acknowledge God when we do not allow secularism to eliminate the voice of the believer from education; we acknowledge God when we demand that affordable health care be accessible to the poor, the elderly and the disabled; we acknowledge God when we reject pornography and meanness and incivility from social media; we acknowledge God when we enjoy all that God has given us in moderation without unlimited self indulgence and self centeredness. 
    Saint Paul says in Romans (10:10): "For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved."
    Religion is not a private matter of the conscience alone. It must be publicly confessed and lived.  It must bear fruit. If the tree does not bear fruit it will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
    To follow the Lord Jesus is to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourself. To follow Jesus is to love Him with all our heart and to acknowledge God before others.
    Bishop Stephen Blaire



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