THE DISCIPLE—SENT WITHOUT SECURITY
The closing chapter of Hosea is an emotional call for conversion, for a loyal return to the Lord. He alone can save, he alone is the master of history, and he alone can provide the happiness which people seek so frantically.
What Jesus says of his apostles – missionaries – applies also to all who follow him: they have to live with insecurity. They will be contradicted, ridiculed, perhaps persecuted. The gospel, meant to bring peace, in reality often divides. It sets off, sets apart. It brings division even among those who claim Christ as their Lord. Jesus promised to his disciples then and now his Holy Spirit to stand by their side in their trials.
Lord our God,
our faith is often put to the test
in the confusion of our time.
Let your Holy Spirit speak in us
when we meet contradiction
on account of the gospel of your Son.
May he be our strength and peace
in living with the uncertainties
that are the lot of those who believe in you.
Stay with us when the going is rough
and bring us home to you
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Reading: Hosea 14:2-10
Thus says the LORD: Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the LORD; Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls. Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount; We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion.” I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them. I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots. His splendour shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar. Again they shall dwell in his shade and raise grain; They shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols? I have humbled him, but I will prosper him. “I am like a verdant cypress tree”—because of me you bear fruit! Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the LORD, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.
Responsorial Psalm 51:3-4, 8-9, 12-13, 14 AND 17
R. (17b) My mouth will declare your praise.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me. R.
Behold, you are pleased with sincerity of heart,
and in my inmost being you teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me of sin with hyssop, that I may be purified;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. R.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me. R.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. R.
Alleluia John 16:13A; 14:26D
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
When the Spirit of truth comes,
he will guide you to all truth
and remind you of all I told you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Matthew 10:16-23
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Despite his severe warnings, Hosea remains always a prophet of hope. The first step to total reengagement is conversion. Idols must be abandoned, reliance on foreign powers must be shunned. In the face of noble sentiments, God’s love will be deeply felt. With God himself providing rain, Israel shall blossom like the lily; she shall strike root like the olive tree. Never again shall she be desolate. If she walks in the way of justice, her future is assured.
The trials that beset the first Christians, so well-illustrated in today’s Gospel, underscore the crosses that accompany the life of faith.
To read the Acts of the Apostles is to see how accurate were the prophecies of Jesus. Imprisonment became a fact of life. It is interesting to note the large number of New Testament personalities who spent time in prison.
This was a great hardship for the apostolic church, but it always led to a brighter day.
The only question remaining is, shall we persevere to the end? With conviction and God’s help, we will. The battle is the Lord’s. The world is the Lord’s and everything in it. The Son of Man will one day return and will graciously embrace those who remain faithful.
– For all churches and missionary societies, that they may proclaim Christ not by power and prestige but by humble service, we pray:
– For missionaries, that they may discover the good there is in the hearts and minds of people and in their culture, to heal, to ennoble, and to perfect them in Christ, we pray:
– For all our young churches, that they may be deeply rooted in their own people as communities of faith and love that enrich the whole Church, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Jesus, your Son, was defenseless
against those who rejected him,
yet he entrusted himself to you
and you raised him from the dead.
Give him to us now
in these signs of bread and wine.
Let him accompany us on the road to you,
that we may remain faithful with him
and persevere until the end.
May we thus also live with him
who is our Lord for ever.
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
we thank you for encouraging us
through the word and example
of your Son Jesus Christ.
His word is not comfortable
and neither was his example.
Send us to make his gospel known
by the way we ourselves live it.
And when our ardor cools off,
remind us that you are our God
who sends and accompanies us
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
People speaking in the name of God should not worry what to say; for Jesus assures us that the Holy Spirit is speaking through them. May God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!