14th Week, Thursday, July 11

 14th Week, Thursday, July 11

Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9 / Matthew 10:7-15 

Hosea talks about God’s love: “I was the one who taught you to walk. ”
Joseph Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, wrote a book called Twenty Letters to a Friend. A letter from her father contains this excerpt: “You don’t write to your little pap. I think you’ve forgotten him. ....Never mind, I kiss you. I am waiting to hear from you.”
Any parent who can relate to that excerpt can relate to today’s Scripture reading. It is one of the high points of Old Testament revelation about God. God is portrayed as a loving father. It was he who took Israel into his arms. It was he who lifted Israel to his cheeks. It was he who taught Israel to walk. But the more he loved Israel, the more Israel turned aside and rejected him.
How do we respond to those who love us, especially our own fathers and mothers? “Father! - to God himself, we cannot give a holier name.” William Wordsworth
Any parent whose son or daughter is overseas studying or working, would look forward or even long to hear from their children. With the change in ways of communication, even parents would learn how to use email or skype or Facebook or whatever just to keep in contact with their children. But just as the parents would find ways and means to keep in contact, the children would be the ones who are not that keen or interested, even though they are more versatile with modern-day communication means.
The sentiments that parents have for their children are expressed tenderly in the 1st reading. What is more profound is that it was God who was speaking through the prophet Hosea. And the 1st reading contains the intimate revelations of God in the Old Testament. God is portrayed as a loving father. It was He who took Israel into His arms and lifted Israel into His embrace and taught Israel to walk.

But the more God loved Israel, the more Israel turned away and rejected God. This ungratefulness and unfaithfulness would certainly provoke divine wrath, besides of course, human censure.

 This is where God reveals Himself as merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in mercy. To put it tersely, God is the Holy One who does not wish to destroy. That is what Jesus sent for His disciples to proclaim. That is also what we have to bear witness to.


 In poignant terms, Hosea describes how much God loves his child Israel. Even when he has to reprimand his people, God will be merciful, for he still loves his people, however wayward. He is God, not a mere human being.  Jesus sends his twelve apostles to announce the kingdom of heaven. They have to be detached from possessions, even from people. They are to be poor also in the sense that they must accept the insecurity of not being received well. Perhaps we could retain these words of Jesus today: you received without charge, give without charge: your love, your service, your commitment.   

Opening Prayer   
Lord our God,  you send us all on the mission of making your kingdom known by the way we live the gospel of Jesus Christ, your Son.  Give us a sense of mission, we pray to you and do not let the cares of the day or the weight of possessions keep us from bearing witness that you are our God and that Jesus is the Lord who lives with you and the Holy Spirit forever.

In speaking of God’s love for Israel, Hosea passes from the image of husband and wife to that of a parent and child. It was God who taught the child how to walk, held him in his arms, and hugged him. He brought his child out of Egyptian bondage.  And yet with all the care showered upon the child, he only wanders farther from his parent, ultimately burning incense to pagan gods. And still God’s constant love emerges, the unwillingness to abandon his child. Israel will not be destroyed. This song is a great testimony to God’s fidelity.  The good news of Jesus was to be carried with haste by those who received it. The apostles are not to be impeded—by money, clothing, or personal belongings. The message they bear is one of peace and joy. To reject it is to reject the kingdom; to accept it is to find the key to life.  Lord, give us hope in discouragement. Be always the light of our lives. We have failed many times, but we are grateful that you have never given up on us.   

Points to Ponder   
God’s fidelity 
The imperative of preaching the good news 
Hope in discouragement   

– That pastors and lay people in the Church may untiringly announce the good news as the source of happiness and peace for all, we pray: 
– That we may find peace within ourselves, learn to accept ourselves, and set aside pride and hunger for power to seek genuine and lasting peace, we pray: 
– That missionaries everywhere may make the Gospel credible by their evangelical lifestyle, we pray:    

Prayer over the Gifts  
 Lord our God,  Jesus, your Son comes among us in the poverty of a piece of bread and a few drops of wine.  As he gives himself to us free of charge,  may we too learn to share free of charge what we have and we are.  Let this be our offering to you through Christ our Lord.   

Prayer after Communion   
Our generous God, this has been a Eucharist,  a real thanksgiving to your merciful love.  Out of gratitude,  may we do the work your Son gave to his disciples:  to fight the forces of evil in and around us,  to heal and to care, and thus to proclaim in our deeds and lives that you are a loving God and that your Son Jesus Christ is our saving Lord forever.   

We have received without charge all God’s forgiveness and life. Let also give them without charge and generously pass them on to one another, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.