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July 12, 2018 - A Relational God

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The prophet Hosea paints a picture of God as a loving parent (Hosea 11:1-4, 8e-9), a father/mother who is heartbroken by their rebellious child who has turned away from them.In this Old Testament book, Israel is the rebellious child who has rejected God and whom God is compassionately calling back.
As a mother, I know how painful it can be to have your child turn away from you and seem to reject all the love you have poured out to them since when they were still being formed in your womb.With beautiful imagery, Hosea describes God as teaching the people of Israel to walk, taking them in loving arms, drawing them with bands of love, stooping to feed them, but “they did not know that I was their healer.” It was as though Israel did not recognize God as its loving mother and father; or perhaps took that love for granted and wandered away from it, choosing to turn its back on God, like a rebellious adolescent.
 
But Hosea tells us that God’s heart is overwhelmed; God’s pity is stirred and God will not destroy them again in anger,“I will not give vent to my blazing anger…I will not let the flames consume you.”God remained faithful to Israel and awaited its return from the seduction of wealth, power, and other gods.
 
What hope this gives us today to have such a loving and compassionate God.Not one whose wrath we must fear, but one who loves us so compassionately and tenderly like a loving father or mother, calling us back even when we have turned away and disobeyed.
 
I think it’s easy to look back now and not identify ourselves with the people of Israel; but I wonder, are we aware of what distracts us today from remaining faithful to our loving God?What “gods” might we be turning to in our own lives or collectively as a nation?Do we become too self-seeking, too self-reliant, believing we can handle our lives without God’s help or without the support of a community of believers?
 
Today’s gospel reading (Matthew 10: 7-15) reminds us of the importance of depending on God and others to carry out our calling, to use whatever gifts God has given us, and to share those gifts freely.Jesus commissions the twelve disciples to go out and perform their ministries and not take money or provisions with them.They are to rely on those who receive them into their homes to provide their food and lodging, and they are not to receive payment (gold, silver, or copper); rather, they are to share their gifts freely.
 
Granted, I don’t think each of us is being called to go out into the world in the same manner, but perhaps we are being called to share our gifts without seeking anything in return.And perhaps we are being called to rely on God more and to support each other in our ministries.
 
Our God is a relational God.God loves us like a compassionate parent and wants us to accept and return that love. God also calls us to be in community with others.We are not meant to live out our faith alone.We are meant to support each other and rely on each other; and in doing so, we find God.Let us reflect on how we are being called to share our gifts freely and support each other in our callings.
 
Eileen Miller