A reflection on the readings for June 25, 2023 — The 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time 

Are you ever afraid or disturbed, maybe even frequently?

Blessed Clelia Merloni

In preparing for this homily, I came across a beautiful quote from Blessed Clelia Merloni, the foundress of the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She said,

Be careful to never let your heart be disturbed or get involved in things that upset it, but always work to keep it calm. In this way the Lord will build in your soul a city of peace, and your heart will be a place of delights. Every time you get upset, Jesus simply wants you to come back to silence and calm yourself again in all your works and thoughts.

— Blessed Clelia Merloni

When we are disturbed, oftentimes it means that we are afraid.

When we are afraid of what is to come and what the future holds, our hearts get disturbed.

And so I ask again, are you ever afraid? Is your heart ever troubled? Some of you may wonder, “Father, how can we not be disturbed? Don’t you see the state of our world? Don’t you worry about the future? Aren’t you disturbed by the Ukrainian-Russian war? Are you disturbed by the threat of China attacking Taiwan? Don’t you see the culture decaying? How people are attacking the beliefs of the Church? Look at all the so-called Catholic politicians promoting agendas contrary to life, contrary to the sacred gift of human sexuality. Father, of course, we feel disturbed by all of this.”

And what does Jesus say in response to our fears? He asks, “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?” And he points out, “Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid,” Jesus says, “you are worth more than many sparrows.”

In these words, Jesus is inviting us to trust him completely. Yes, there are a lot of things that are wrong in the world and in our culture. We cannot turn a blind eye to them. But if our hearts are disturbed and fearful it indicates a lack of trust in the Lord Jesus.

As we navigate the challenges of our culture and our world, we must find a balance. On the one hand, we must be courageous. We can’t be afraid to speak the truth of the gospel in love, because the world needs Jesus and his gospel; and Jesus tells us that if we acknowledge him before others then he will acknowledge us before his heavenly Father. We must bring his truth to the world.

On the other hand, we can’t allow ourselves to be consumed by fear of the future, because as the Prophet Jeremiah reminds us in the first reading, “The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.”

So how can we allow Jesus to calm the fear in our hearts?

Blessed Clelia offers us valuable advice. She tells us, “Try a little to distance yourselves from worldly distractions, and to spend a few half hours in recollection and prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. You will see how enlightened your mind will be, how much your soul will be refreshed and comforted.”

When we are afraid or disturbed, entering into prayer will ease our fears. A couple of weeks ago I experienced the truth of Blessed Clelia’s words. I was having a bad day; my heart was disturbed (which means I was probably afraid of something). I took some time to take a walk and pray the Rosary as I walked. As I walked and prayed, things became clearer for me. My mind was enlightened. And I felt more comfort and peace.

If you are afraid. If you are disturbed.  Enter into quiet conversation with the Lord. He is our friend and our Savior. He loves you and he wants you to trust him more. Let’s heed Blessed Clelia’s words today and allow Jesus to bring comfort and rest to our souls.

Image by Christiane from Pixabay

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Fr. Michael Najim was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Providence in 2001. He currently serves as the pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Westerly, RI.

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