Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these:
first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Philip and Bartholomew,
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
Good News Reflection: Getting rid of sacred pillars
Sometimes, the best way to pray for someone who needs conversion is to ask God to remove all the “sacred pillars” upon which this person has been leaning, the substitutes that have kept them from having a genuine friendship with the Lord.
Like the Israelites in today’s first reading, many who resist God today are those who are fruitful in their worldly endeavors. They accumulate wealth, influential friends, or high-ranking jobs. The more successful they are, the less they recognize a need for God. They live as if they are God. They trust in their sacred pillars more than they trust in God. They see no reason to lean on God.
And there are adults who are simply too young and inexperienced to have discovered their need for God. They lean on their dreams, thinking that they are special enough to have everything they want simply by wanting it.
We all lean on wrong supports from time to time. God gives us talents and skills and training so that we can be successful, but we don’t always use them in the endeavors that he has chosen for us — endeavors that are better for our souls, our families, the world and the kingdom of heaven.
When praying for ourselves, we should ask God to remove the sacred pillars that contribute to the illusion that we can ignore him: the pillars of self-reliance, and the pillars of excuses and rationalizations that allow us to think we’re fine when we’re actually sinning.
Then watch out! The harder we’ve been leaning on these pillars, the harder we fall. Some folks have to fall a long way down to reach bottom before they will look up and cry out to God for help.
But God is gentle. God in his great mercy gives everyone many opportunities to turn to him before crashing. Then, if nothing leads to a breakthrough, God will eventually “break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars.”
Failures and fallings are really great blessings. “Break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the Lord.” Let your old crop be destroyed no matter how much you feel like resisting the change. Start plowing with Jesus. Let go of what you have been trying to accomplish, for you are reaping from the bad seeds that you had sowed.
Notice the uplifting message that Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel reading. “The reign of God is at hand!” Take seeds from Jesus and sow the reign of God into the fields of your failures, for miracles will spring from the new ground and the harvest will be awesome!
Jesus, I praise You for all the fallings You permitted in my life, because through them I gained a new understanding of Your love and mercy. May Your will be always fulfilled in me. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica