Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 3, 2023
A Franciscan story tells how St. Francis was about to send some of his brothers to preach in a hostile, pagan land. Everyone expected them to suffer martyrdom, and so those who weren’t going crowded around the missionaries, secretly hoping to boast later how they had met such saintly martyrs.
One timid friar in line was horrified when one of the missionaries told him, “So Brother Jordan, you too will come with us?” The young friar recoiled in shock, but then thought, “What if it’s the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that I go?” He took his dilemma to Francis himself, who advised him to follow his heart. Brother Jordan did accompany the missionaries, and survived to chronicle their exploits.
We may smile at the tale of the timid friar afraid to face martyrdom. But what would your reaction be? In today’s liturgy, the prophet Jeremiah, along with Saints Paul and Peter, are featured in Scriptural passages that evoke their own struggle with the possibility of martyrdom. What were their fears, their dilemmas, their response, in the face of God’s call?
The challenge of the gospel for us rarely comes so directly. But it remains real. Day-to-day, there’s a lot we cling to. We want to save face, keep from rocking the boat, avoid the embarrassment of taking an unpopular stand. But at what cost?