The prophet Hosea’s personal experience of his wife’s unfaithfulness gave him a unique perspective to enable him to raise the issue of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. We have to remember that even though both kingdoms of Judah in the south and Israel in the north had human kings, they ultimately considered God their only ruler. So the kings were chosen for their legitimate claims to the dynastic line. But that did not guarantee their faithfulness to God and the Law in either their personal lives or in their public roles. And the prophet gave voice to God’s disappointment and anger, because their unfaithfulness was tantamount to a voluntary return to slavery. Hence the reference to their “return to Egypt.”
By extending compassion and healing, Jesus makes no distinction between personal sin and the ravages of disease and illness. Today he heals one supposedly possessed by a demon. Those who study scripture know that many physical and mental afflictions were misunderstood in those days, and were sometimes (often) attributed to evil spirits. But in one of last week’s gospel readings, Jesus heals a paralyzed man by first forgiving his sins. We do not know whether his paralysis resulted from something he did, an accident, or or was genetic in origin. But by forgiving the man’s sins, we see the Good Shepherd extending compassion and healing to his flock.
Then he turns to his disciples to tell them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest,” setting the stage for tomorrow’s call of the 12. Jesus’ own mission was primarily of compassion and healing. And he seeks others to carry out his work in the world. When we extend compassion and healing, we do the work he entrusted to his church.
We offered today’s mass for the repose of +Jane Skaggs.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020