Israel is often portrayed in the Old Testament as a young woman or a bride pursued by the Lord. The prophets love this image, and Hosea, in particular, in today’s first reading proclaims how the Lord attempts to woo Israel over and over again. Israel’s problem is fidelity, she is like an unfaithful bride whose jealous husband is constantly trying to win her back. God gives us this image of being in a marriage bond with Israel to emphasize how important His relationship is with His people. He has not married Himself to any other people, and He is committed to this relationship even though Israel behaves like a prostitute. “If only she would listen to me.” He seems to say, “She would be persuaded by my love and fidelity.”
Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus ushers in the final wave of salvation history. This last wave is the one in which the greatest number will be saved and find safe passage to the Kingdom of God. This wave is an overabundance of God’s grace characterized by His Mercy. To have Jesus – God in the flesh – as a man amongst men, living humbly yet profoundly, is an invitation to consider perfection in a completely new way. The holiness of God comes uncomfortably close to us in Jesus. Many of us, if we consider our sins and shortcomings, would rather not be sitting next to the one who knows it all and is able to condemn us for eternity. “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man!” said St. Peter. Receiving forgiveness from God is one thing, having Him over for dinner and sharing a glass of wine with Him radically upsets what we would naturally perceive as the proper boundaries between what is Holy and what is mundane. Jesus certainly taught His disciples, but He would also listen to them: not only when He asked them questions, but also when they would simply speak about their lives and experiences. Jesus’ preferred title was not “Master,” or “Lord,” but “friend.” Indeed, what makes Him the Divine Physician is His desire and intent to become friends with every man and woman who have ever existed. If we accept Jesus’ gesture of friendship, we can be healed, be made whole, receive forgiveness, and understand how great the good news really is.
Priests are fond of reminding everyone on this particular Sunday, if they choose to actually preach about the Trinity, how hard it is to avoid heresy. The secret is to keep it short. I’m sure that appeals to most of the people in the pews, but we could end up living our Christian lives as though the Trinity was some sort of enormously complicated and “risky” mystery that we had better not try to understand. Now while it is true that we will never understand the Trinity (even in heaven!), we shouldn’t let that stop us from having our hearts and minds expanded if not blown away while we are still here below. Jesus’ whole mission coming in the flesh was to make the whole mystery of God – the Trinity – accessible to us. When Philip complained about just wanting to be shown the Father, Jesus didn’t respond, “Sorry Philip, I know it’s hard to understand, there are a lot of Theological complexities involved, and you’ll never understand anyway so just believe it and don’t worry that it doesn’t mean anything to you.” Jesus actually said, “Do you still not know me Philip? Whoever sees me has seen the Father.” Fortunately, the key to a meaningful encounter with the Trinity has nothing to do with understanding it rationally.