Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 25, 2023

June 25, 2023


June 25, 2023

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time





I can’t say that I ever thought very much about the number of hairs on our heads, not until I was holding my newborn son, gazing at every perfect golden thread that framed his face. In a moment of wonder and probably sleep deprivation, I understood intimately and profoundly that there is no counting, that all of creation, including my tiny child, bears witness to the great mystery of God’s love. A God who counts the uncountable is a God of tender devotion indeed.

I didn’t think about the number of hairs on our heads again until years later, when my beloved Aunt Ellen lost hers, to chemo, again and again and again. How could these heads of hair be counted by the same God, tiny newborn threads and great clumps left behind in the shower, evidence of a devastating illness?

As our readings from Jeremiah and the psalms today remind us, we are not the first to cry out to God in our despair, not the first to ask, “How could you let this happen?”, not the first to ask, “Where ARE you, God?” Jeremiah and the psalmist both cling to a stubborn hope, a firm conviction that they will see the wrongs against them righted in their lifetimes. I know I don’t have to tell you that it doesn’t always work that way. I know that each one of you carries your own grief, your own loss, that every day the news brings fresh reports of a world in which injustice, greed, and inequality always seem to be the victors.

And that’s why I find Jesus’ words in today’s gospel so interesting. It’s part of his commissioning of the disciples, sending them out on their first mission. As Jesus gives them their instructions, directly preceding the passage we hear today, he details the trials and difficulties that await them: they will be betrayed, hated, flogged, and put on trial, he promises. And then, one last thing, he says. Do not fear. I bet the disciples were thinking what I’m thinking: “Um, what? Is this a mission I want to go on?”

But there are more promises. There is nothing hidden, Jesus says, that will not be revealed. The Greek word for that revelation is one we are very familiar with: apokalypto. We came to know this word well in 2020, when the pandemic laid bare the many cruelties of our national and global order that were previously kept covered, at least from those not immediately affected by them, by the bustling pace of everyday life. When everything stopped, the massive rifts in our culture were impossible to ignore. What perhaps before was whispered in the darkness was indeed brought into the light.

When I think of my heroes, I think of people who never faltered in their work of uncovering what others worked so hard to keep hidden: St. Óscar Romero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Fannie Lou Hamer, and so many more. Prophetic voices, they had the sensitivity of spirit to hear God’s whispers, and they shouted them from the rooftops. I’m sure they were all well acquainted with disappointment, doubt, and discouragement. I’m sure they all had their moments of raising their fists to the sky, asking God why, wondering where God was. But they kept on shouting the truth. So, likewise, must we.

When Jesus tells us to speak in the light what we have heard in the darkness, he uses the same Greek word that John’s gospel uses to describe him: Phos. The light that shines in the darkness, the light that the darkness will not overcome. And that’s why it’s so startling when Jesus tells us in Matthew’s gospel that WE are the light of the world. Yes, that’s right, us. Phos.

Maybe it’s because all of my heroes knew that intimate hair-counting love of God that they were able to carry on. Maybe it’s because the work that they did drew a direct line from their own knowledge of that love to the need to build a world that treats every human as equally beloved. Maybe it’s because they understood something set forth in an Irish proverb long ago: “It is in the shelter of each other that people live.”

Those were words that I found to be true when we lost my Aunt Ellen this year—in our grief, we were literally holding each other up, gathering each other’s tears on our shoulders as we embraced. And it was undeniable that God was there, the God that so many of my heroes knew—the God who is especially close to the brokenhearted, the God who draws near to the harassed and persecuted, the God who not only makes room for the marginalized, but sets aside the most privileged place for them.

Scripture shows us time and time again that God is not afraid of our emotions. There is space for lament, for grief, for anger. We will not be the last to weep, to voice our despair. But we can be assured that there is not a cry we make that God does not hear. And perhaps it’s the compassion of a God who knows suffering so personally that can indeed lead us not to fear.

My children are growing now, no longer newborns with golden threads of hair. They go to school each day while I wrestle with how to entrust them to a dangerous world, how to manage my own heartbreak when their little hearts are broken. I don’t have any easy answers for how to do that. But I do know that we are deeply, fiercely, tenderly loved, all of us, not just my family but the entire human family, by the God who is light and who calls us to be light ourselves—to the world, yes, but also to each other.

First Reading

Jer 20:10-13


Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35

Second Reading

Rom 5:12-15


Mt 10:26-33
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Cameron Bellm

Cameron Bellm

Cameron Bellm is a Seattle-based writer, retreat leader, and contemplative in action. She combines her love of language with a deeply-rooted spirituality to compose prayers, poems, essays, and devotionals linking our modern lives with our ancient faith.

After completing her Ph.D. in Russian literature at UC Berkeley, Cameron traded the academic life for the contemplative life, informed by Ignatian spirituality and Catholic social teaching. She is the author of “Prayer for a Pandemic,” which went viral in the early days of COVID-19. Cameron writes the Spirit & Verse column at and is the author of A Consoling Embrace: Prayers for a Time of Pandemic (2020) and No Unlikely Saints: A Mental Health Pilgrimage with Sacred Company (2021). Her work has been published in America, National Catholic Reporter, Geez, Today’s American Catholic, and Bearings Online.


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