Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 8:4-7.11-13; Matthew 9:32-38)
Two years ago William Byron, a Jesuit priest teaching at St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia, and Charles Zech, an economist at Villanova University, reported on their survey of why Catholics in a New Jersey diocese leave the Church. Unsurprisingly, many people said that they no longer practice the faith because of policies such as not allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion. The survey uncovered other reasons as well, but high moral standards seem to discourage Catholics as much as anything else. In the first reading today the prophet Hosea chastises Israel for abandoning the faith of their ancestors for similar reasons.
Hosea was an eighth century B.C. prophet who preached in the Northern Kingdom of Israel with its capital located in Samaria. It was a time of prosperity, but rather than turning to the God of their ancestors in gratitude, the people were inclined to worship the fetishes of their pagan neighbors. The pagan deities were much less demanding than God. Where the Lord insisted that the people control their appetites, paganism could extol licentiousness.
In Jesus the commands of God are brought to fulfillment. To many they seem harder to obey – not even to look with lust or not even to resist a rebuke! But this is because we tend to forget that Jesus walks with us to share our burden.