God Is Always There To Help Us
Friday of Week 14 in Ordinary Time - Cycle II
Hos. 14:2-10 & Mt. 10:16-23
Hosea is the prophet of God's love. Yesterday we saw how His love was touching and tender. He presented God as a Father who scoops His child, Israel, into His arms and presses him against His cheek. Today, fully aware of Israel's disobedience, he cries out, "Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God." His words easily make us think of the parable of the prodigal son returning to His Father. That too is a touching and tender scene, an image of how God completely loves us despite our failures.
The knowledge that God is our father should give us courage in life, especially when things are difficult. Jesus in the Gospel warned His disciples that they would be like sheep among wolves, that they would be hated because of Him. The particular problem faced by the disciples may not be identical with ours but there are parallels nonetheless. There is no point in trying to cite examples since difficulties and trials are different for each one of us and we know our own problems well enough.
The point is that as we go through life we are not alone. We have the help, the guidance and the protection of a loving Father. God is especially present to us through His Son in the Eucharist. This is the most important help of all. But when we pray in the Lord's prayer for our daily bread, we should understand that this daily bread includes not only the Eucharist and our natural food but everything we need to continue as faithful, loving children of God. Even when we sin, God calls us to return to His fatherly embrace. With God as our Father we can and should lead lives of joy and peace.
What does Jesus mean when He says His disciples must be sheep in the midst of wolves? The prophet Isaiah foretold a time when wolves and lambs will dwell in peace (Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25). This certainly refers to the second coming of Christ when all will be united under the Lordship of Jesus after He has put down His enemies and established the reign of God over the heavens and the Earth. In the meantime, His disciples must expect opposition and persecution from those who oppose the Gospel. Jesus never hesitated to tell His disciples what they might expect if they followed Him. "This is My task for you at its grimmest and worst, do you accept it?" This is not the world's way of offering a job! After the retreat from Dunkirk in 1940, Churchill offered his country blood, toil, sweat and tears. This is not the message we prefer to hear when the Lord Jesus commissions us in His service. Nonetheless, our privilege is to follow in the footsteps of the Master who laid down His life for us. Are we willing to accept hardship and suffering in following after the Lord?
Lord Jesus, help us to accept patiently and joyfully the hardship, adversities, and persecution which come our way in serving You. Strengthen our faith and give us courage that we may not shrink back from doing Your will.