Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
A little girl was attending a wedding for the first time. When the organ blared and everybody stood up, she looked down the aisle toward the church doors and saw the bride in her beautiful gown. With a big smile she turned to her mother and asked, “Mommy, why is the bride dressed all in white?” Not wanting to give a full explanation, her mother replied, “Because white is the color of happiness, and this is the happiest day of her life.” The little girl then looked in the opposite direction and saw the groom standing tall in his tuxedo. Which is when, with as serious face, she asked her mother, “Then why, Mommy, is the groom dressed all in black?”
“Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be made known.” Those are some of the first words of Jesus’ message to us in this Sunday’s gospel. In the original language, they would have called to mind some of the traditional attire worn at a wedding. When Jesus speaks of things being “revealed” and “made known,” he’s using the same vocabulary that was used to describe a groom lifting the wedding veil to reveal the beauty of his bride. In Greek, the word is apokalyptein, from which we get our English word, apocalypse. Now, jokes like the one I just told depend on the notion that many men view their wedding day as if it were the “end of the world”—a catastrophic finale to their days of fun. But I have no doubt Jesus is hoping that we’ll look to the end of days much more like a joyful bride, in happy anticipation of sharing a life with the one you love.
Listen again—and carefully—to those words of Jesus: “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be made known.” Jesus doesn’t say that some things will be exposed, or even that most things will be laid bare. In the end, nothing at all will remain secret, everything will be brought out in the open. Everything! (And an already quiet church just got perfectly silent.) That’s quite a sobering thought, isn’t it? Little wonder that in this brief passage Jesus tells us three times to not be afraid!
Shouldn’t the thought of meeting God and spending eternity with him have us rejoicing? So why does this thought have us quaking in our boots? Because we’ve tried to hide some things. Because we’ve kept secrets. Because our outside and our inside don’t exactly match right up as they should.
For some of us, we’ve got it all together on the outside. We get to church most every Sunday and have received the sacraments. We’ve got a crucifix on the wall and a rosary on the rearview mirror. To all outward appearances, we’re pretty good Catholics. The secret is, however, that we’re not who we appear to be. Have I cultivated a personal and intimate relationship with Christ? Is he truly the center of my life, or just another part of it? Have I given him full control? Does he get the final say? Or do I hold back—for fear of what he might ask me to do, or fear of what he might ask me not to do? Jesus will ask nothing of us that is not for our good. He who has his eye on the tiny sparrow will not neglect to care for us in our need—in fact, to secure for us the fullness of life. He even has counted the hairs on our head! (Admittedly, that’s a greater accomplishment in some case than in others.) Do not be afraid to take your faith to heart! You can keep no secrets from the Lord.
For some others, we’ve got it all together on the inside. Our prayer is frequent, sincere, and intense. We don’t really take issue with anything the Church teaches. As far as the Catholic faith goes, we’re all in. But we keep it all to ourselves. It’s our secret. Religion is really a private matter, isn’t it? You don’t want to stand out from the crowd, do you? What would the neighbors think? But Jesus is clear: if we truly believe all that he has whispered to us, then we must be ready to proclaim it from the housetops. Those who have acknowledged Christ before the world are the ones Christ will acknowledge before his Father. Do not be afraid to share your faith with others! You must not keep the Lord a secret.
“Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be made known.” That’s only a frightening thought if we have something to hide—from the eyes of God or the eyes of our neighbors. Live your life in such a way that you can look ahead to its end, not with dread but with happiness. You are a member of the Church: the bride of Christ. When her great beauty is ultimately unveiled, be sure you’re wearing the appropriate color. Do not be afraid! Dress all in white.