Hope Through Love
Wednesday: Fourteenth Week of the Year: July 6, 2016
Year II: Hosea 10:1-12; Psalm 105:2-7; Matthew 10:1-7
The Responsorial Psalm urges us to “remember the wonders the Lord has done, his miracles, the judgments he spoke” so that we will “Seek always the face of the Lord” (Psalm 105).
Hosea 10: 1-12 predicts consequences so dire as a result of Israel’s infidelity that “they shall say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’” (See also Luke 23:30). But as always, Hosea’s message is a message of hope. He encourages the people:
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
All Christian ministry is a ministry of hope, because God is good. God is kind. God is faithful. And God has the power to save us. “His judgments prevail in all the earth,” as the rest of Psalm 105 details. We are called to live in joy: “Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.” To rejoice always, the secret is, “Seek always the face of the Lord.”
The truth is, God doesn’t wait for us to seek him; he seeks us out to save us. He not only came to earth, he remains on earth, continuing his mission in us; in his Church. In Matthew 10: 1-7 we see him answering the prayer he urged in yesterday’s Gospel: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest”:
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples…. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions…. Proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”
In and through the Church Jesus continues to reveal himself under all of his names: as “Son of David” who gives hope by fulfilling all of God’s promises; as “Jesus — God saves,” by his healing life-giving ministry; as “Emmanuel — God with us,” until the end of time; and as “Universal Lord” by sending us wherever fields are ripe for the harvest.
Christian ministry is a ministry of hope because it is the embodiment of God’s reliable “kindness and fidelity,” of his “steadfast love.” No matter how far we stray from God, he will keep seeking us out. He has promised and he will be faithful.
If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? (Matthew 18:12).
This is the spirit that animates Christian ministers. We are not just storekeepers waiting for customers to come to us. Christians are animated by missionary zeal. The love that should be evident in our ministry, embodied in our actions, is the love of Jesus the Good Shepherd, who knows intimately every person on earth; who cares enough to die for each and every one; and who will never stop until all are safe:
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep…. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also (John 10: 14-16).).
God’s love is all that gives hope on earth. It is the burden and the blessing of Christian ministers to embody it.