14th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday (Year II)
Hosea 2:16, 17b-18, 21-22; Matthew 9:18-26
Hosea, a prophetic instrument of God, had the unusual vocation of illustrating with his own life God’s undying love for his people. Directed to take an unfaithful woman for his wife who bore children with names denoting the consequences of infidelity, Hosea’s family became a mirror for Israel. The overarching symbol of a “marriage” between God and humanity in the Old and New Testaments was inaugurated by Hosea.
After being banished from the lush garden of Eden, Adam and his progeny ran in every direction after worldly enticements—that which was “a delight to the eyes” (Genesis 3:6)—in the futile attempt to restore the immortal joy for which they were made. The carnival of sights, sounds, scents, tastes and textures of the city of Cain overwhelmed the spirit and sent the inner compass spinning.
Thus says the LORD: I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.
One does not fight fire with fire, but with its opposite, water. From the city of the world into the desert, Adam needed to be starved of the sensations and idols of the world in order to recover his divine sonship and origin. What “allure” did the desert and the wilderness have for a worldling? None, unless the still, small voice stifled by the clamor of the senses received a hearing from the inner spirit. Usually, only desperation after exhausting the decaying fruit of the city propelled surrender and retreat.
Layer after layer of artificiality and unnatural conventions encrusted the human heart over many generations, yet the still, small voice was never completely silenced. The fundamental yearning for life, a voice above the din, was never destroyed.
The synagogue official, Jairus, in desperation set aside the rumors and prejudices of the religious authorities against Jesus and sought his healing power for his daughter. The woman who suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years, and who was considered ceremonially unclean, broke with religious convention in search of the fundamental good, the fullness of life. Risking severe censure by reaching out to touch Jesus’ tassel, her faith and hope in the bearer of life trumped manmade rules. At the official’s house, Jesus walked into the unnatural fuss and commotion of professional mourners—flute players and wailing women—who “ridiculed him” for declaring the girl “not dead but sleeping.” The still, small voice calling out for life had been wrapped and mummified by a thousand artificial bandages.
Life himself took the little girl by the hand and lifted her from the throes of death and mourning. In raising her up, Jesus showed himself to be the life-giving voice in the desert calling humanity back to the Father.
I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD.