Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 8:4-7.11-13; Matthew 9:32-38)
Several years ago two economists surveyed fallen-away Catholics about why they left the Church. Unsurprisingly, many said that they no longer practice the faith because of the Church’s rules. For example, they did not understand why divorced and remarried Catholics could not receive Holy Communion. The survey uncovered other reasons as well, but high moral standards seemed to discourage Catholics as much as anything else. In today’s first reading 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. It was a time of prosperity. But rather than turning to the Lord in gratitude, the people fancied the gods of their pagan neighbors. The pagan deities were much more indulgent than the Lord. Where the Lord insisted that the people control their sensual appetites, paganism extolled licentiousness.
In Jesus the Lord’s commands are brought to fulfillment. His new commandments may seem to us harder to obey. We may ask, “How can we never look at a beautiful woman or handsome man with desire?” and “How can we never resist an insult from another?” But we must remember that Jesus is there to help us do the seemingly impossible.