Hosea communicates God’s judgment to sinful Israel: the nation will become a wasteland, the people will soon be dispersed to Egypt and Assyria, the monarchy and the idolatrous sanctuaries will be destroyed. Today’s reading connects Israel’s material prosperity with their idolatry: the more Israel prospered, the more altars and sacred pillars to false gods were set up. Jesus will teach that man cannot serve both mammon and God (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). The people chose the false gods mammon and Baal over the one true God.
The people are told by Hosea to seek the Lord and the responsorial psalm tells us to “seek always the face of the Lord”. The hearts that seek the Lord rejoice because they are filled with true joy. Those who seek the Lord look back and recall his wondrous deeds, his portents (miracles-signs-prophecies), and his judgments. The psalm refers back to the covenant promises made with Abraham and implies that, as descendants of Abraham and sons of Jacob, they are heirs of the promises (Psalm 105:7-12).
Seeking God is about letting ourselves be found by him. Finding God is not merely a human achievement. We need to realize that God takes the first step – he is the one who searches for us as lost sheep. In the Gospel, Jesus commands his newly-appointed apostles to go out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The call and sending out of the apostles marks a new stage in Jesus’ ministry. Up to this point, Jesus was the one who taught, proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom, cured disease and illness, and cast out unclean spirits. Now, after appointing the twelve as apostles, Jesus gives them authority over unclean spirits, the power to cure every disease and illness, and the charge to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The Gospel message first preached by the apostles was an exhortation to conversion and repentance, for the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 4:17). After Jesus’ Resurrection the message of repentance remained, but now the people were to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and the reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Baptism was no longer a sign of repentance, but an effective sign (a sacrament) that forgives sin, introduces the Christian into divine life by sharing in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jesus worked signs and miracles to bring the people to believe in him, that he is the Christ, the Son of God, who comes into the world to save it and bring it new life. The apostles will work signs and miracles as well, as a testimony to the truth of our salvation in Jesus Christ.
The Apostles heard the sermon on the mount and could communicate that message on their first mission trip: the beatitudes; the fulfillment of the law and the prophets by Jesus of Nazareth; the renewed call to holiness and perfection; not to make a show of almsgiving, prayer and fasting; that we should lay up treasure in heaven and serve God alone; that we should trust in God’s providence; that God is our Father and that he gives good gifts to his children. Ultimately, the Apostles preached about Jesus, brought the people to know him and encouraged them follow him as his disciples.
After Pentecost the Apostles and the disciples of Jesus would be sent out once again, not just to the lost sheep of Israel, but to all the nations. That sending out continues today. We are sent out to proclaim to the nations the Good News of our salvation. All men and women seek God: this desire is written in the human heart. We are created by God and for God, and God never ceases to draw us to himself. Only in God will we find the truth and happiness that we never stop searching for (CCC, 27). “Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, ‘an upright heart’, as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God” (CCC, 30).
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at [email protected].