In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.
Every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny him before my Father who is in heaven.Matthew 10:32–3
These, my dear brothers and sisters, are hard words for us to hear. They seem clear-cut—acknowledge me and I will acknowledge you—and are without any nuance. So we could easily turn to despair: we don’t want to be that one person at work who always brings up Jesus, the person we already secretly loathe, so we hear today’s Gospel without hope.
Today we commemorate All Saints—happy name day to you all! And the Church offers to us every day saints who have let the light of Christ shine through themselves. There are saints who have led great lives of service and asceticism, whether living the monastic or married life, and we can see their sanctity shining throughout their lives. But, at the same time and in the same breath, we read of the lives of saints who did less than holy things: many of them were sinners—great sinners!—and yet the Church holds them up as examples to us all. “Acknowledge me and I will acknowledge you,” starts to lose its lustre: it cannot be all of what Christ meant.
In this verse most English translations do not translate the word “in.” The Greek, in a more literal reading, says “Every one who acknowledges in me before men, I also will acknowledge in him before my Father in heaven.”1
Those who acknowledge in Christ, because it is not that we acknowledge Christ—even the demons can do that—but that we are in Christ, in his power, in his might, in his sovereignty. When we let Christ into our hearts and let him act through us then everything we do acknowledges Christ before men whether we use words or not. This is precisely what the saints through all the ages, from the Beginning of Time until this very day, have done: let the Lord act through them.
My dear brothers and sisters, elsewhere the Lord tells us, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) It is not merely by placing words on our lips that we acknowledge and confess the Lord but by our actions before others. Let us pray we open our hearts to him that we may acknowledge in him—in his power, in his Spirit—and find fulfilment in the promise he has given us: “I also will acknowledge in them before my Father in heaven.”
May the prayers of all the saints enable us to open ourselves to the power of God that we may come to a more perfect knowledge of the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, Amen.
1 Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοὶ ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁμολογήσω κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς. (Matthew 10:32)