Hosea 2:16, 17-18, 21-22
“The Lord is kind and merciful.” Today’s acclamation is a fitting response to both of the day’s readings, but, as the body of the responsorial psalm makes clear, the Lord is also powerful:
“Generation after generation praises your works and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
And tell of your wondrous works.”
The Gospel passage from Matthew relates the same events as last Sunday’s passage from Mark, but with a stronger emphasis on the power of God as manifested in Jesus. In Mark, Jairus begs healing for a sick child. In Matthew, the child is already dead as the father approaches Jesus. He is pleading, not simply for a cure, but for resurrection. Mark has Jesus a bit confused about the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage. He asks, “Who touched me?” In Mathew’s account, He immediately turns to the woman, declaring, “Your faith has restored you to health.” We are witnessing two of the “wondrous works” praised generation after generation. The power, of course, is used in the service of compassion. Our mighty God is kind and merciful.
The reading from Hosea is an even more striking instance of power directed to kindness and mercy. Who of us would not wish to help the grieving father and the suffering, outcast woman? To forgive betrayal is another matter. Hosea has been describing a people who have turned their backs on the God who led them out of Egypt and established them on their land. They have ignored the Commandments and worshipped other gods. Yet God speaks not merely as an offended party willing to extend a second chance but as a lover, yearning for union with the beloved. The Lord exults in the vision of a faithful marriage rooted in right and justice, love and mercy.
These stories of powerful Divine love are comforting to hear. They are also challenge us. They urge us to imitate the One in whose image we are made.
- Sr. Mary O’Brien, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Sisters’ community in Union City, NJ.