Hosea 2:16-18, 21-22
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward,
knelt down before him, and said,
“My daughter has just died.
But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”
Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.
A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him
and touched the tassel on his cloak.
She said to herself, “Id saw her, and said,
“Courage, daughter! Youf only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”
Jesus turned around anr faith has saved you.”
And from that hour the woman was cured.
When Jesus arrived at the official’s house
and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion,
he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.”
And they ridiculed him.
When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand,
and the little girl arose.
And news of this spread throughout all that land.
Good News Reflection: Curing the infection of disbelief
To be near Jesus is to be healed by Jesus — spiritually first of all, but also in other ways. What does it mean to be near enough to touch the hem of his cloak, like the woman in today’s Gospel passage? How do we get that close to him in everyday life?
It requires a firm belief in who Jesus really is.
The synagogue leader knew who Jesus was, so it was easy for him to say, “Please come to my house and pray for my dead daughter and she will come back to life.” He believed in Jesus, but that wasn’t enough to make the miracle possible. Jesus had to oust the mourners from the man’s home. Why? Because their disbelief would have infected the father’s faith.
How has the disbelief of people around you infected your thinking and reduced your trust in Jesus? In his constant love for you? Or in his plans for you?
In today’s first reading, God spoke through the prophet Hosea about the Israelites eventually returning to a covenant relationship with him. “When that day happens,” he said, “she shall call me ‘My husband,’ and never again ‘My baal.'” Baal was the name of a very ancient, male deity whom the Israelites had turned to when they lost faith in God. Note that in this scripture “baal” is lower-cased to emphasize that it was a false god.
When we lack sufficient faith in the nearness of Jesus or we fail to fully trust him when we pray, it’s because we’re believing in a false god — we have an inaccurate understanding of who God really is and how much he really cares.
To some degree, we all have false images of God. To some degree, none of us have received enough unconditional love from our parents, our spouses, and other humans who have had authority over us, so we unconsciously assume that God will love us only on the condition that we do all the right things. We assume that God will give us miracles only when we say the right prayers. And many believe in his anger more than his love, seeing him as a baal who could inflict pain.
We know that God is love, but our understanding of this is limited by our experiences, and so we think God is less than he really is.
To get a good, clear view of what God is truly like, read 1 Cor. 13:4-7. Read it slowly, word by word (“love is patient” and “love is kind“, and so on). Read it again, changing the word “love” to “God” and personalizing it (“God is patient with me” and “God is kind to me” …). Is that the God you know? Is that the God to whom you pray? If yes, then you are at the feet of Jesus, touching the hem of his garment.
This is one of my favorite topics to present in retreats and seminars. You can get a taste of it in the Good News WordByte “Healing Our Image of God’s Fatherhood” at wordbytes.gnm.org/suffering-Gods-fatherhood/ . And for a PowerPoint seminar on this topic, go to Catholic Digital Resources: catholicdr.com/powerpoint-packages/life-in-the-holy-trinity/ and scroll down to the one called “Life in the Father”.
Jesus, I admit that sometimes I let myself be influenced by the world because I’m still not fully aware of how much You love me. Heal me, Lord, of my disbelief! I believe in You, Lord, but increase my faith! Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica