Many the brave witnesses to faith
Who shed their holy blood
To water the seed of faith in fertile sacrifice
Before the eyes of heaven and earth.
Not all are called to such brave display
Yet still will wear the crown of victory
Such are the ones who faced the long slow steady martyrdom
Of daily dying so they might live.
Each day of life they chose the steep and narrow path
Offering their sacrifices seen by none but God alone
Who watered deep faith with hidden tears
Quiet witnesses who in loving joy served others as unto Christ.
Whether in quiet hidden witness or in bold and brave display
We each can give glory unto God
In brave endurance and embrace of the holy cross
Offered to us by God.
Linda Frasier (e’s mom)
- JER 20:10-13 Jeremiah laments that all those who were his friends are now watching out to take advantage of any misstep.
- PS 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35 Lord, in your great love, answer me… for your sake I have become an outcast and a stranger.
- ROM 5:12-15 Sin entered the world…
- MT 10:26-33 Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, be not afraid, you are worth more than sparrows, Jesus will acknowledge us before his heavenly Father.
Jeremiah’s words of truth brought separation from those he considered his friends, who didn’t want to hear the truth. The lectionary omits his frustration with God, whom Jeremiah identifies as having deceived him, and allowed him to become a laughingstock, but also his conclusion that he will trust God even now.
It is not unreasonable to struggle, like Jeremiah, with doubt and frustration, especially when God’s promises seem… delayed. The Navarre bible commentary relates St. John of the Cross’s conclusion that sometimes God’s purposes are nearly impossible to understand: “It is very difficult to attempt to understand fully the words and deeds of God, or even to decide what they may be, without falling often into error or becoming very confused. The prophets who were entrusted with the word of God knew this well; their task of prophesying to the people was a daunting one, for the people could not always see what was spoken coming to pass. Therefore, they mocked and laughed at the prophets…”
Jesus, too, endured persecution for speaking the truth. His friends, too, abandoned him. He, too, faced ridicule for putting his trust in the Father’s promises. From that context, he promises that he will be a faithful friend, acknowledging before his Father every one who acknowledges him before others. He also warns us, as Paul relates, that sin will separate us from one another, and from his friendship.
He offers us in this gospel
- Freedom from fear of death
- The assertion that we are not forgotten by God
- A promise that rewards await those who stand with Christ
In meditating upon friendship, I thought of this, from another Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sira (200BC-ish):
Pleasant speech multiplies friends, and gracious lips, friendly greetings.
Let those who are friendly to you be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.
When you gain friends, gain them through testing, and do not be quick to trust them.
For there are friends when it suits them,but they will not be around in time of trouble.
Another is a friend who turns into an enemy, and tells of the quarrel to your disgrace.
Others are friends, table companions, but they cannot be found in time of affliction.
When things go well, they are your other self, and lord it over your servants.
If disaster comes upon you, they turn against you and hide themselves.
Stay away from your enemies, and be on guard with your friends.
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; those who fear God will find them.
Those who fear the Lord enjoy stable friendship, for as they are, so will their neighbors be.
Do I have the courage to speak the truth? To speak of him who is truth to those who will reject him, and me?
Or am I too afraid, and constrain myself to only those pleasant sayings and friendly greetings that will earn me shallow friends?
Do I allow sin and its consequences to separate me from others? From God?
I commit myself to :
- not place too much stock in those whom I know to be fickle friends
- better appreciate those who have proven to be faithful friends
- most greatly value him who is the most faithful of friends, and shares a name with the author of Sirach – Jesus, the son of God
- commit myself to becoming a more faithful friend
In considering the sorry state of the world, one can’t help but wonder when the Lord might intervene.
So, when might he intervene?
I don’t know, he hasn’t told me.