Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 10:1-3.7-8.12; Matthew 10:1-7)
The great twentieth century spiritual master Thomas Merton decried false piety. He wrote that often in pursuit of an ideal, that ultimately proves to be mistaken, people misconstrue reality. This error is seen in the person who “storms heaven” by exaggerated prayer and fasting in order to secure God’s help. Merton indicated that the most people can do is to quiet themselves so that they may perceive the presence of God when He comes. Merton echoed the prophet Hosea in today’s first reading.
Hosea is convinced that the Kingdom of Israel is lost; the nation will never be just. He tells the people that they must start over again. This time they are to practice true piety. “Sow for yourselves justice,” he says. In other words they are to follow the Law anew in anticipation of the Lord’s coming. God arrives, of course, with Jesus.
We must take care not to falsify religion with sanctimony like the people of Israel in Hosea’s time. We should remember that love of neighbor is the surest way to love God. Also, we should not forget that prayer and other acts of piety are not to be done to attract anyone’s attention, not even God’s. Rather they make us open us to God’s coming with the fullness of life.