14th Week, Wednesday, Jul 10

14th Week, Wednesday, Jul 10
Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12 / Matthew 10:1-7 
Hosea prophesies disaster: The people must suffer for their sins.
The northern kingdom was prospering when Hosea began to prophesy in Israel. In fact, this is what stirred Hosea into action. He rebuked the nation, saying that the more fruitful their orchards were, the more altars they built for false gods; and the more productive their fields were, the more pillars they erected to pagan idols. Hosea warned the people that they must reform. If they didn’t, punishment would descend upon them. It would be so severe as to make them “call out in the mountains, ‘Hide us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’” But Hosea might as well have been talking to a brick wall. When stomachs and pocketbooks are full, warnings fall on deaf ears.
How aware are we of the dangers of too much prosperity? “It will be very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:23
Basic common sense will tell us that for the most important jobs, we would pick the most qualified people to do it. Or at least people with a certain level of intelligence and capabilities that will do justice to the task. Strange that Jesus did not follow this principle. For the proclamation of the kingdom, He chose 12 men. Most, if not all of them, would be automatically written off from the board of directors or executives of any organization.

In doing so, this is what Jesus is telling us. Even for the simplest of persons, God has a task and a mission for him. God does not write off anyone. But we can write ourselves off. This happens when we become too proud of ourselves and do not rely on God anymore. We become like Israel in the 1st reading - the richer they became, the more idols they began to worship. We do not need high qualifications to do the most important things in life.

In fact, we just need basic common sense to know what it is. And it is there in the 1st reading when it says: Sow integrity for yourselves, reap a harvest of kindness. It is time to go seeking the Lord until He comes to rain salvation on you.

In the name of God, the prophet Hosea scolds the people of Israel, who have let prosperity lead them into a hypocritical religion. He calls them to conversion. Jesus sends out his apostles as healers of the ills of people so that the new era of the kingdom of God can begin. They, and we too, have to be healers in a world that is harsh and pitiless and much in need of healing. Let the forgiveness and compassionate love we receive from God renew this world and make it God’s world and kingdom. 

Opening Prayer 
Lord our God, you let your Son Jesus entrust his good news of healing and liberation to simple and weak people. Make us much more aware, Lord, that the good news of the kingdom is fundamentally human, accessible and easy to understand. Let this good news grow in us and transform us deeply and fill us with the healing love of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In many books of the Old Testament, we read accounts of repeated failure. Perhaps no one describes God’s favor and human negligence as graphically as Hosea. In today’s reading, Israel is described as a luxurious vine with abundant fruit. The children of the covenant, favored with God’s law, had a future that was assured. But what resulted? Altars to pagan gods; productivity turned into wasted ingratitude. Their sacrifices, tainted with idolatry, were worth nothing. Their only future would be a return to bondage. And yet hope for that dawn of a better was never lost. It came, although it turned out differently than expected. It involved a kingdom with a different kind of king. It came at a moment of strong eschatological hope, but it did not follow the path of ordinary expectations. It was a kingdom of gentleness and humility. Its king came humble and riding on a donkey. This new kingdom introduced a time of forgiveness and hope, an opportunity to let the past be forgotten. Announced to Israel by unlettered Galilean laborers, it would soon spread to the world. The kingdom of God is at hand. It is now present in our hearts and on our lips. We now live in the era of the great pardon. 

Points to Ponder 
Formalistic religion
The unexpected character of Christianity
Grateful for forgiveness 

 – That our commitment to the work of justice and our sense of service may bear witness that the kingdom of God is alive among us, we pray:
– That the Lord may call many priests, religious and committed laypersons to announce the good news to the world, we pray:
– That in our Christian communities we may receive and live the word of God with open hearts and great zeal, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Our loving God, you have given us without charge this bread and wine. Turn them by the power of the Holy Spirit into your best free gift to us, your Son Jesus Christ. Dispose us to keep him not to ourselves but to share him with all those around us without any other preference than that of Jesus: the poor, the needy, and the little people. May this be the sign that we are your people, that your kingdom is growing among us and that you are our God now and forever. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God, again we ask of you to make us more your people of the covenant. Through Jesus, your Son-with-us, make us all one, praying and working together to build up your kingdom among people. Let none of us be an uncommitted spectator but make each of us fully aware that, weak and fallible as we are, you need us and want us to be a holy people, the sign to all of your lasting goodness. We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

God sends us to be healers and to proclaim with our lives that the kingdom of heaven is here and growing in our world. May almighty God bless you for this task, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.