14th Week in the Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Hos 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 splendor 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.
Gospel: Mt 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.”
FAITHFULNESS TO OUR VOCATION: We always have a tendency to take God’s love for granted. Faithfulness to God and his Word are pre- requisites for everyone who follows him. His paths are clear for those who seek him and the just walk in them but the wicked stumble. To be a disciple of Christ is challenging and requires sacrifice, patience, perseverance and God’s grace. The Spirit of the Lord is ever leading and guiding us in our life journey. Sometimes we get preoccupied as what to do and say in certain situations of life. Jesus is assuring us to believe in him. There could be oppositions when we stand for God and the values of the Gospel. We got to persevere and stand firm in our faith in Jesus Christ has. Let this be a way of life for each one of us.
Prayer: Lord help me to persevere in my vocation.
SPREADING THE FRAGRANCE OF THE GOSPEL: The gospel presents the paradox of Christian life: we preach peace and love and wish good for everyone but are paid back in hatred and persecutions! People living in non-Christian countries experience antagonism even when they are good citizens. Jesus experienced–rejections, suffering and death – his disciples were to undergo the same. The disciples were therefore fore-warned to avoid being caught by surprise. Examples of persecuted Christians edify us. They fearlessly confess their faith, notwithstanding the cost. Being shot, put to the sword, or burned alive, rather than deter them, leads to a glad welcome of martyrdom. Rather than harbor hatred for their persecutors, they pray for them amidst sufferings. Jesus promises, “I will heal their defection…I will love them freely…” If only we knew how eager our God is to forgive us freely and reconcile us with him, we would be ready to suffer for the gospel. With such an objective, one can bear any suffering; we have it abundantly!
GOD SENT ME HERE AHEAD OF YOU: At times Christians especially civil servants and traders among others, ask about how they ought to witness to their faith in the harsh environment in which they find themselves. While there is no already made response for every situation, yet we know that the Lord who sends us to be witness is aware of difficulty and he says: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves.” Just like He assured Jacob as he was going to Egypt, aware that we are not alone but accompanied and guided by the Holy Spirit, we are encouraged to go ahead and bear witness to the truth of the Gospel aware of where our real home is. Of course, as Christ assures us; “whoever endures to the end will be saved.”