Sowing Mercy and Justice
Homily for Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
When Jeroboam II was king, Israel prospered and had economic security. However, this prosperity began to be expressed in an extremely wealthy and luxurious life. It was accompanied by an unprecedented collapse of moral principles, and idolatry and corruption spread throughout the land. Hosea was one of the great prophets of Israel who spoke about the wickedness of the people and cried out for a return to the moral principles expressed in the Torah. He predicted that idolatrous shrines and idols would be destroyed. Terrible days would cause the people to weep so loudly they would cry out to the hills to provide them with safe refuge.
At the same time, however, the people had it in their power to change – to reverse their situation. Hosea states that this could only happen if the people would begin to sow justice – a justice in which everyone shares equitably in the available resources. It is a justice that comes from hearts that have been moved by compassion. It centers itself on the search to discover what God desires for his people. This justice produces fruit that lasts and is something to be enjoyed and shared with others.
Clearly, Hosea was called to a specific task – to keep the people of Israel faithful to their covenant with the Lord. In today’s Gospel passage, we hear of the group of Twelve who were also called to a special mission. They are summoned by Jesus, and each one is named. The word Apostle means “one who is sent,” and so the Twelve are sent out by Jesus to spread his teachings in a particular way. The Gospel passage indicates that initially, the Apostles are asked to confine their ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As God’s own people who are heirs to the covenant, the Jews were the first ones to be invited to follow Christ, the Messiah. He fulfilled the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Apostles were instructed to proclaim to the people that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In other words, just as Hosea had called his people to compassionate justice, Jesus sent his Apostles to sow mercy and justice.
In our world, these same messages – of the kingdom of heaven, of sowing justice – are proclaimed to us. In a society of seemingly unchecked consumerism and selfishness, to say nothing of violence and hatred, we must be people who respond to the needs of the most vulnerable and sow justice where it is lacking.