Monday: Fourteenth Week of the Year: July 4, 2016
Year II: Hosea 2:16-22; Psalm 145:2-9; Matthew 9:18-26
The Responsorial Psalm focuses our hope on God’s heart: “The Lord is kind and merciful” (Psalm 145).
This week we begin the prophet Hosea. In Hosea 2: 16-22 God reveals that his love for his people is spousal love: the love of the bridegroom for his bride. Above all it is faithful love: when his spouse is untrue, God will not let her go:
I am going to lure her and lead her out into the wilderness and speak to her heart. There she will respond to me as she did when she was young!
When God revealed his inmost self to Moses, his identifying characteristic was “steadfast love and faithfulness,” which we translate as “kindness and fidelity,” “grace and truth,” or just “enduring love.” These words are “a virtual definition of God,” and no images express them better than the images of God as Father and as Spouse.1
What is unique about God is that his love never ends. He never gives up on us. The worse we are, the more he pursues us. The more unfaithful we are to him, the more faithful he is to us. This is the message of Hosea. It is the message of hope that should characterize all Christian ministry.
If we really know God we will relate to him as Spouse. “On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, ‘My husband.’” To bring people to this is the goal of Christian ministry.
Matthew 9:18-26 shows us three characteristics of Jesus that should inspire and guide all Christian ministers. First, the official’s request shows that something about Jesus made people believe he wanted to help. That was his first priority. To turn people away because they are in violation of some Church law is to make the law an idol. Christian ministers always find a way to help, even if it means bending the rules just short of the breaking point. The first and over-riding rule of all pastoral ministry is “Feed my sheep!” This law about loving others matches the absolute monotheism of the First Commandment. No “idols” must distract us from love.2
Secondly, Jesus was approachable. The woman in the crowd had the courage to reach out and touch him. So far as we know, Jesus never turned anyone away for not respecting his time-schedule or because they approached him when it was inconvenient! What makes us inaccessible may be something we have made into an idol in our lives.
Finally, Jesus never gave up on people or underestimated what they were capable of. The crowd laughed at him when he said, “The little girl is not dead.” But because Jesus believed in the power of God, he brought her to life. To yield to discouragement is to elevate obstacles into idols.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Let your faith give you hope that works miracles through love.
1See Exodus 33:12 to 34:6 and the Jerome Biblical Commentary on John 1:14.