Friday 12 July 2024

Friday of week 14 in Ordinary Time 

Liturgical Colour: Green. Year: B(II)

Readings at Mass


First reading
Hosea 14:2-10

A call to conversion and promise of safety

The Lord says this:

Israel, come back to the Lord your God;
your iniquity was the cause of your downfall.
Provide yourself with words
and come back to the Lord.
Say to him, ‘Take all iniquity away
so that we may have happiness again
and offer you our words of praise.
Assyria cannot save us,
we will not ride horses any more,
or say, “Our God!” to what our own hands have made,
for you are the one in whom orphans find compassion.’
– I will heal their disloyalty,
I will love them with all my heart,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will fall like dew on Israel.
He shall bloom like the lily,
and thrust out roots like the poplar,
his shoots will spread far;
he will have the beauty of the olive
and the fragrance of Lebanon.
They will come back to live in my shade;
they will grow corn that flourishes,
they will cultivate vines
as renowned as the wine of Helbon.
What has Ephraim to do with idols any more
when it is I who hear his prayer and care for him?
I am like a cypress ever green,
all your fruitfulness comes from me.

Let the wise man understand these words.
Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning.
For the ways of the Lord are straight,
and virtuous men walk in them,
but sinners stumble.


After a long series of denunciations of Israel’s failure to respond to the persevering love of God, the Book of Hosea concludes with a more cheerful passage, promising that the LORD will cure Israel of its disloyalty. And that it will once again flourish like a fruitful countryside, with lily, cedar, olive, wheat, vine, cypress.
The two contemporary prophets of the Northern Kingdom, Hosea and Amos, as its dissolution draws near are both fiercely critical of the lack of social justice and the corrupt practices which the priests and rulers sought to counterbalance with empty sacrificial ritual; but both end with a promise for the future, presumably after they have been punished. These promises may have been added later, but Hosea, throughout the Book repeatedly returns to the theme that the LORD is like a loving husband, an unreasoningly loving husband, who repeatedly draws his unfaithful wife back to himself. This message remains firm: if only Israel will come back, the Lord will decorate her with all the beauty of the meadow and the countryside


Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 50(51):3-4,8-9,12-14,17

My mouth shall declare your praise.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

My mouth shall declare your praise.

Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

My mouth shall declare your praise.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

My mouth shall declare your praise.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

My mouth shall declare your praise.


Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia!
The word of the Lord remains for ever:
What is this word?
It is the Good News that has been brought to you.


Alleluia, alleluia!
When the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
and he will remind you of all I have said to you.


Matthew 10:16-23

The Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.
‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. ‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved. If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. I tell you solemnly, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.’


Much of this central passage of the Missionary Discourse is derived from the Eschatological Discourse of Mark 13, though some of that Discourse is retained in Mark’s position by Matthew. Accordingly it must be read on three different levels, that of Jesus speaking to his disciples about their mission, that of the early Church interpreting their experiences in the light of Jesus’ sayings, and finally that of the modern disciples of Jesus fulfilling the same missionary task amid the same difficulties and trials. For Tertullian’s saying in the second century is true in every age, ‘The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church’. We know from the writings of Paul (such as 2 Corinthians 12) that his mission was fraught with physical, emotional and spiritual suffering in which he relied on the help and guidance of the Spirit. It applies also to those who have witnessed to Christ in every age and the present day, for the Church has never been free of persecution. The message for the future is grounded in the circumstances already well-known to us from the Acts of the Apostles, bearing witness under flogging in ‘their’ synagogues and before governors and kings. Nor is division within families, and even treachery, for the sake of Christ unknown today. The same perseverance is demanded still.
Two contemporary details attract comment. Matthew speaks of flogging in ‘their synagogues’. This no doubt stands in opposition to ‘our synagogues’, implying Matthew’s probable situation of the Church emerging from the world of Judaism and still hanging on to the Jewish tradition as its homeland despite opposition and persecution. Furthermore, the invocation of ‘the Spirit of your Father speaking in you’ is one of the few passages where Matthew mentions the presence of the Spirit in the disciples. More frequent is the presence of the Spirit to Jesus (at the Baptism and the Testing in the Desert) and the presence of Jesus with the disciples (at the final Commissioning on the mountain in Galilee). Jesus’ promise here of ‘the Spirit of your Father’, expresses a grasp of the Spirit more akin than usual in Matthew to the Paraclete, the Advocate, in the Gospel of John