Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 14:2-10; Matthew 10:16-23)
Today’s first reading ends the Book of the Prophet Hosea. The prophet’s oracles were delivered to the northern kingdom of Israel. Although Hosea typically denounces idolatry and social injustice, his message is more one of hope. As its central image, the prophet offers his relationship with his prostitute wife. Although she is unfaithful, he waits lovingly for her return. God then is like the prophet ready to forgive his rebellious wife Israel if she buts repents of her infidelity.
In the passage at hand Hosea exhorts Israel to recognize its need of the Lord. It is to beg God’s forgiveness as it reforms its way. Not only are the people to give up idols; they are also to show compassion to the vulnerable. As a result they will thrive like a great tree unfolding its branches to the sky.
Has Israel ever returned to the Lord like Hosea envisions? We should answer, “Yes, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.” He alone has given God total worship. And he alone has shown the poor thorough compassion. As Lord, he acts on behalf of all the people. We who swear allegiance to him then are considered righteous because of his deeds.