Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13
Reflections on today’s gospel from Matthew frequently remind us of the need for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. However, in this Gospel we also hear Jesus showing us, as he often does, that discipleship, which we are all called to, is always made up of two components. Jesus rids the mute man of demons, thus healing his soul, but he also heals his affliction. Matthew tells us of Jesus compassion and how deeply he cares for the people.
This message is heard throughout the New Testament. Jesus teaches us how to pray to His Father. He shows us the value of going away for time to be just with God. By his very life, he exemplifies obedience and devotion to God. But Jesus also repeatedly tells us to care for our neighbor, to change the systems that create poverty, to look for ways to love one another. It is best summed up in the great commandment: Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart and your whole soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Beginning with this Gospel , we will hear Jesus calling over an over again for us to become his disciples – to do as He has done: to care for His lambs, to feed his sheep, So whether the call we hear from God is to the priesthood, to religious life, or to service as laity, if we listen, what we hear is a call to care for the physical needs as well as the spiritual needs of all the people of God.
In light of the New Evangelization, we, as a Church, open the doors of our places of worship and of our hearts welcoming all and reaching out to those who need to be introduced to or renewed in the faith, But we also must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the homeless. This is what Jesus has told us to do. This is the true role of a Christian.
Mary Lou Butler is a long-time friend and partner in ministry to the Passionists in California.