for the tenth Sunday of the Year
Hos 6:3-6 - Rm 4:18-25 - Mt 9: 9-13
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
God's great mercy
Hos 6:3, «Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his going forth is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.» 4, What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. 5, Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. 6, For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.
The Prophet Hosea, whom we read today in the first reading, lived in the middle of the eighth century before our era. If Jesus cites him in this Sunday's gospel, it is not without reason: Hosea is the Prophet of the extreme, the Prophet who wants to show the People of God how great, immense, out of proportion is the mercy of the Lord when faced with the multitude of the people's sins and the great number of its infidelities. "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice." (Hos. 6:6)
Of course, the mercy of God is not at all out of proportion. The mercy of God is in proportion to God himself: it is infinite. This allows us to understand that we cannot understand it! For that which is infinite surpasses the capacities of our natural intellect, which is finite. We must therefore go to a higher level: that of the supernatural intellect, that is to say that of faith! Solely faith in God allows us to understand, and above all to spiritually taste, how great is the mercy of God.
Rm 4:18, In hope [Abraham] believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, "So shall your descendants be." 19, He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20, No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22, That is why his faith was "reckoned to him as righteousness." 23, But the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, 24, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Without faith, it is impossible for us to understand the least fragment of the Love of God towards us. Without faith, we cannot understand what are God's intentions for us and for every man and woman called to serve the Lord on earth in order to reign with Him in Heaven! Faith serves to reorient our life: the faith in Jesus Christ proclaimed in the gospel is not destined to make us happy on earth, but rather to give us, here below, the pledge of eternal Life, the sole source of true happiness!
Abraham lived of this faith, and this faith justified him! Having believed in the Word of God, Abraham received life from this same Word, a Word that is a food, a food that inaugurates, in the one who eats it, the very Life of God! "He who through faith is righteous shall live." (Rom 1:17; Hab 2:4) However, Abraham lived before the coming of the Messiah: he hoped, against all hope, for the coming of the promised Messiah. So it was only in hope that Abraham lived of the Life of God. A hope that, however, allowed him to taste by anticipation how great is the mercy of God towards him and towards all humanity...
Mt 9:9, As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. 10, And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. 11, And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12, But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13, Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
Abraham left his homeland of Chaldea one day to follow the Lord on the way to the Promised Land. Here, it is Matthew, the publican, or tax collector, who is called to follow Jesus on the way to Heaven. I do believe that if the gospel Jesus preached was meant to make men happy on earth, the Lord would have left Matthew at his tax office, having given him recommendations to be honest with all taxpayers. Instead of that, Jesus tells Matthew: "Follow me." Which means: "Leave all of that and attach yourself to me alone!"
All of us need conversion: all of us must reorient our life, through faith, towards the higher realities. Let us not fear to leave everything for Christ! When death will come, it will be necessary to leave everything. So if we accept our death, we will be able to merit, justly, eternal Life. Otherwise, do we not fear to be strongly attached to all creatures, and first of all to ourselves? So then why not act as if death were already here? Let us be detached from everything! But, through faith, let us be strongly attached to the Lord!
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." We are the sinners that Jesus sought. Let us ask Him for forgiveness! Let us love Him with all our heart! Through Mary, may the most great mercy of God overflow in our soul!