Feast of St. Maria Goretti
Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13
Hosea is in a different mood today than yesterday. On Monday Hosea was encouraging the people by describing how loving and faithful their God was. It was good news. Today, we hear bad news. The prophet, speaking for God, warns the people they are about to move on. No, they won’t be going south to the country of Egypt, but north to Assyria, whose strong armies would conquer Israel, destroy the land and force the people of Assyria to be slaves. Why?
We are told that the people did not listen to the word of God, the warnings of the prophets or to their own deeper sense of what is right and wrong. Their leaders took the throne by violence, certainly not God’s choice. Worse, they melted down their silver and gold to make false gods. Hosea warned them to get rid of them. "When they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind." One evil leads to something much worse. Israel sowed the wind of idolatry and reaped the whirlwind of Assyria.
In the Gospel Jesus must deal with people who also do not listen. In fact the section of today’s Gospel is preceded by several healing stories. We know that the stories of those who cannot see or hear or speak have deeper spiritual meaning. For Jesus, the spiritual reality is more serious than physical blindness or deafness or inability to speak. The Pharisees in the Gospel, like the people during Hosea’s time, are blind because they cannot see or do not want to see God at work; they are deaf because they do not hear or do not want to understand the truth; they are speechless because they cannot speak the words of life, love or hope.
When Jesus mentions that the harvest is rich but the workers are few, he is inviting us to see, hear and speak on his behalf. He cannot do it all. In fact, Jesus will hardly step outside the boundaries of Palestine. He needs many helpers. These helpers are not just the bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters. That would be a very narrow concept of "laborers." Every baptized person has been called by God to be a harvester, to help people find and experience the truth and the love that God gives us through Jesus Christ. We all have a vocation to serve and build the Kingdom.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.