When Israel was a Child I Loved Him

Daily Homily for Thursday, June 10th

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Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Year Two

Hosea 11:1-4,8e-9
Psalm 80:2ac and 3b,15-16
Matthew 10:7-15

Throughout his prophetic book, Hosea used the image of a husband and wife to speak about God’s relationship to Israel. Although God was faithful to Israel and sent prophets to the people to bring them back, Israel was unfaithful to God, worshiped foreign gods and rejected both God’s law and God’s word. Now, Hosea employs the image of a loving parent toward their child to affirm that, through the covenant, God offers to Israel the grace of divine sonship.

While the image of a husband and wife stresses the mutual relationship of faithful, compassionate love, and mutual responsibility, the image of a parent and child stresses the gratuitous and merciful actions of God toward Israel: he taught Israel how to walk, he took Israel into his arms, he heals Israel; God even stoops down to feed Israel his child. These actions are ultimately brought to fulfillment in Jesus Christ: he teaches his apostles and disciples to walk in the light, he takes them into his arms like sheep and little children, he heals them physically and spiritually. Through the Incarnation, God stoops down in an unheard of way: he comes to his people and brings them the New Manna of the Eucharist.

Today’s first reading also highlights a difference between the prophets Hosea and Amos: judgment, unremitting in Amos, is balanced in Hosea by compassion and mercy (T. Leclerc, Introduction to the Prophets, Paulist Press, 153). God’s heart is moved by pity and instead of destroying Israel for continually breaking the covenant, God promises to save Israel from the flames.

The Psalm asks God to look down from heaven, from his heavenly throne, and take care of Israel, which is likened to a vine that needs protection.

All three images (husband and wife; parent and child; vine-dresser and vine) tell us something about God’s love: his love is faithful and compassionate; his love is gratuitous and merciful; his love is gives life, protects and saves.

In the Gospel, Jesus continues his second great discourse, called the missionary sermon. After appointing them as Apostles, the twelve are sent out to preach the core of Jesus’ message: «the Kingdom of heaven is at hand». By asking the Apostles to travel without money, a second tunic, sandals or walking stick, Jesus is asking them to place their trust in God and testify, through their actions, to the Kingdom: «By traveling in such simplicity, they will be a prophetic sign bearing witness to Jesus’ teaching that the heavenly Father will provide for those who seek first the kingdom and trust in him (6:25-34)» (C. Mitch and E. Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Baker Academic, 144).

The apostles will encounter both those who welcome them with hospitality and those who reject the proclamation of the kingdom. Those who welcome Jesus and his disciples receive the gift of peace; those who reject Jesus and his disciples will be judged more severely than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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