July 6, 2018
by Joan Blandin Howard
Creighton University Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 381

Amos 8:4-6, 9-12
PS 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131
Matthew 9:9-13
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Judging Others? Or Ourselves?

What can I do with you?”

In a reading from Hosea we hear the Lord saying, “ What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? This moan of exasperation, one I know well, is followed by the gentle poetic analogy “Your loyalty is like morning mist, like the dew that disappears early.”

That is a question regarding us all:  What is the Lord to do with us?!

In today’s reading from Matthew there is a hint of what the Lord is to do with us.

For some of us the mention of “commandments’ brings to mind the perhaps universally recognized “Ten Commandments” of Hebrew scripture.  Clearly stated they relay what we ought to do “Thou shall…”  and what we ought not to do “thou shall not…”  These Ten Commandments relate to our relationships to the Lord, to our fathers and mothers and to our neighbors.   Pretty much covers it all.

Jesus in his gentle, and at times not so gentle, ways broadens and nuances these original ten.  In today’s reading Jesus invites Matthew to “Follow me.”   Jesus invites himself to eat at Matthew’s table in Matthew’s house.  Notice that Jesus does not invite Matthew to his, Jesus’s house.   Apparently, inviting Matthew to welcome Jesus into his own home, his own space.  There is an implication that the “sinners (who) came” also ate with Jesus and Matthew.  In this little scene, Jesus has blossomed open the original Ten Commandments. Not commandments, now invitations. Jesus invites Matthew and all of us to “Follow me”, to eat with him, to invite Jesus into my home, my space, to offer to others and to accept from others hospitality, to break bread not only with those who invite themselves, but with those who never dare to impose or expect to be included – the contagious sick, the destitute poor, the filthy homeless, the no-see-ems marginalized, the derelict addicts, the exhausted and overwhelmed refugee, the orphaned and maimed. Jesus says, “Go and learn the meaning of …. Mercy…”  Go and learn by doing, by living “mercy”.  Mercy is a verb, not a noun.  Follow me into living out my invitations. Follow me into your daily life of hospitality, eating, socializing, caring and ministering to whomever, whenever and wherever.

What is the Lord to do with Ephrim and Judah?  What are we to do with those who exasperate and threaten our purified safety and sanctity?  We could begin with the Ten Commandments and waltz into the many, many user and receiver friendly invitations of Jesus.   Learning and living as we go – mercy.

Just imagine Jesus with his arms spread wide, smiling, and with a slight shake of his heard in loving resignation saying , “What can I do with you Ephraim, you Judah and all the rest of you – saints, sinners, tax collectors, would-bes and has-beens?

“What can I do with you?  There is nothing but to love you!”

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