Thursday, July 7, 2016

Messengers of Joy

Messengers of Joy
Friday: Fourteenth Week of the Year: July 8, 2016
Year II: Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 51:3-17; Matthew 10:16-23

In the Responsorial Psalm we proclaim in harmony with our final reading from Hosea that we are ministers of a repentance that is a gift of God and a source of joy: “A pure heart create for me, O God …. Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me…. and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51).

Hosea 14: 2-10 urges us to say to God, “Take all iniquity away, so that we may have happiness again” — and in our joy, “offer you our words of praise.” Hosea is a strong call to repentance; but his whole book is good news. Through his prophet God promises his people, and therefore us, and all who turn to him:

I will love them with all my heart…. What have [they] to do with idols any more when it is I who hear [their] prayer and watch over [them]? (New Jerusalem Bible).

All of God’s promises to Israel were fulfilled when God himself came in Jesus, God the Son made flesh, to be one of us, dwell among us, join us to himself in mystical union as members of his body, take us down into death with himself on the cross through Baptism so that our sins might be annihilated, and raise us up with himself to live in the light and power of his Spirit as his redeemed and redeeming body on earth. This is the Good News. And we are ministers of it to one another and to the world. We are called and consecrated by Baptism to be “priests in the Priest,” members and ministers in Christ, mediators of divine life to one another, heralds of hope and messengers of joy. “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise!

In Matthew 10: 16-23 Jesus warns us, however, that we will not always be perceived as messengers of joy. The very hope we offer and love we proclaim will call people into conflict. We provoke a “crisis” of faith, hope and love, through which people can become better or worse:

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves…. You will be hated by all because of my name.

People are afraid to hear God’s word. Afraid to hope or to live for “more.”  Afraid of what God’s love might call them to be. They are afraid to enter into deeper relationship with God, because they do not know him or Jesus. “They will do this because they have not known the Father or me.” That is why we are sent — to make him known (John 8:19, 14:7, 16:3, 17:25; 1John 3:1).

If we and our ministry are rejected, our response must be that of Jesus: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” The price — and the fruit — of ministry is unconditional love: love like God’s; love that makes visible the love of God that we proclaim. His “new commandment” to all who would minister in his name is,  “Love one another as I have loved you” (Luke 23:34; John 13:34, 15:12). This is the key to all ministry..

Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Love with a hope that gives hope.

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