Tuesday, July 10, 2018

“Sow For Yourselves Justice, Reap The Fruit Of Piety” by Colleen O’Sullivan

“Sow For Yourselves Justice, Reap The Fruit Of Piety” by Colleen O’Sullivan

Gills van Coninxloo, Mountain Landscape with River Valley and the
Prophet Hosea, 16th century, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Israel is a luxuriant vine whose fruit matches its growth.  The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; The more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up.  Their heart is false, now they pay for their guilt; God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars.  If they would say, “We have no king”— Since they do not fear the LORD, what can the king do for them?... “Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.” (Hosea 10:1-3, 12)

Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness… 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.’” (Matthew 10:1, 5-7)

The Spirit to Know You
St. Benedict of Nursia
Gracious and Holy Father,
give us the wisdom to discover You,
the intelligence to understand You,
the diligence to seek after You,
the patience to wait for You,
eyes to behold You,
a heart to meditate upon You,
and a life to proclaim You,
through the power of the Spirit of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

When I think about boom times, I think of the Roaring Twenties.  And when the Roaring Twenties come to mind, inevitably I think of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gadsby.  Everybody parties, yet no one really has a good time.  All that frenetic energy channeled into ephemeral pleasures.  The seeds of disaster are there from the very first page.  They grow and grow and produce little other than death and disillusionment by the end of the novel.

Israel, in today’s first reading, is also pursuing the “good life.”  Described as a luxuriant vine, Israel’s fruits are luscious, full and abundant.  The bigger and better the fruit, the more Israel has to spend elsewhere.  But Israel’s good fortune is lavished on all the wrong things – beautiful altars and sacred pillars to everything but the God who brought them into being. 

It’s an old, old story that still rings true today.  When things are going well in our lives, it’s all too easy to forget about God and to take credit for our good fortune, to see ourselves as lords of our own little universes.  Whenever I start feeling like I’ve got everything organized and under control, watch out!  Something will cause me to stumble and fall.  Only then will I remember who is really in control.

The good news is that we don’t have to keep on sowing fruits of idolatry.  We can plant new seeds.  The Living Space commentary on today’s first reading puts it like this:  But there is a way out if the people change their ways and begin to plant justice, a justice where all share equitably in the resources available and to reap the fruits that come from deeply loving and compassionate hearts.  Our God is merciful and forgiving.  Even though we are all sinners and turn away from God at times, we are called back and given second chances.

The apostles in today’s Gospel were also sinners.  When you read through the Gospels, you see how they failed to recognize Jesus at times, how they turned away from the Lord on occasion.  Yet they are the very ones Jesus commissioned to go out to heal the sick and cast out evil.  Jesus has commissioned us as well to preach the Word and to sow justice wherever we can. 

Without God in the mix, what seems like the boom times often go bust.  When in your life have you felt like you were sitting on the throne, running the show only to have your crown knocked off and your seat of honor tipped over?  How did God pick you up, dust you off and get you back on the right path?

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