Please press here to listen to the homily or download
Tenth Sunday – Year A – Ordinary Time
Readings: Hos 6:3b-6; Rom 4:18-25; Mt 9:9-13.
3 Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord;
as certain as the dawn is his coming.
He will come to us like the rain,
like spring rain that waters the earth.”
4 What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your loyalty is like morning mist,
like the dew that disappears early.
5 For this reason I struck them down through the prophets,
I killed them by the words of my mouth;
my judgment shines forth like the light.
6 For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice,
and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
2/ Second Reading (Rom 4:18-25): 18 He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “Thus shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body as [already] dead (for he was almost a hundred years old) and the dead womb of Sarah. 20 He did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God 21 and was fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do. 22 That is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 But it was not for him alone that it was written that “it was credited to him”; 24 it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification.
3/ Gospel (Mt 9:9-13): 9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 10 While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. 11 The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13 Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
I. THEME: “God desires love, not sacrifices.”
The most important lesson in people’s life is to learn how to know themselves in relation to God. If people spend time to learn about God, they shall surely know how to happily live. If not, they shall certainly receive many disasters in their life. Today readings show us an important lesson that is to correct understanding God’s mercy. People think they must avoid sinners; God teaches people must love and live with sinners so that they can convert them. In the first reading, the prophet Hosea emphasizes to learn about and to love God instead of showy and outside sacrifice. In the second reading, Paul uses Abraham’s case to verify his belief: people become righteous by their faith in Christ, not by carefully keeping the laws because no one can perfectly keep the laws. In the Gospel, when the Pharisees irritated and criticized Jesus sit in the same table with sinners, Jesus reminds them they must learn to understand the sentence: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13 Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
1/ First Reading: To know and to love God are two most important things.
1.1/ The Israelites’ love for God: Hosea is regarded as one of the first prophet (8th B.C.) God used to call the Israelites back. He and Amos practiced their prophetic missions in the North; but their messages can also be applied for Judah, the southern country.
The Lord God performed so many wonderful things for the Israelites; but since they didn’t study so they didn’t understand what God has done for them. God uses the prophets’ mouths to display people’s sins, to terminate their sins and to turn back to His true love; but they refused to listen to the prophets and are stubbornly in their ways. Therefore, God must punish them. He punishes not because He hates them; but because of His love for them. If He doesn’t punish, they shall die in their sins and never can live a happy life with Him.
Prophet Hosea compared the Israelites’ love for God is as shallow as the morning cloud or the morning mist, when the sun rises, they are disappeared. The Israelites need to learn and to practice so they can have a strong and faithful love as God loves them.
1.2/ Two important lessons which the prophet Hosea emphasized today:
(1) God desires love, not sacrifice: Many people are so used with shallow and deceitful behaviors, when it is time to offer sacrifice to God, they also offer them with such shallow and deceitful way. They forget that everything they have belong to God and He gives to them for using; therefore, their sacrifices also belong to God, they take what belong to God and offer back to Him. The prophets don’t want to obliterate sacrifices, but they emphasize people’s love for God through offering of sacrifices. God hates those who comes to Him because of a habit. He dislikes those who reluctantly keep the laws. He desires people to have a complete love for Him.
(2) He desires to be known by people than the oblation: To experience God’s love for people, we need to spend time to learn and to meditate about God’s love through Scripture because “no knowing, no loving.” People cannot love the one they don’t know. The more they know about God’s love for them, the more they will return their love to Him. God shall help and bless those who try to learn about Him because “who are looking for Him, shall find Him.”
2/ Second Reading: We become righteous by our faith in Jesus Christ.
2.1/ Abraham is considered righteous because he believes in God: This is Pauline most important theological point in the Letter to the Romans and the Letter to the Galatians; but not many people fully comprehend its meaning. Paul wants to emphasize that people cannot be righteous by doing anything except by completely trusting in God. This is what Abraham, our forefather did. Paul wrote: “18 He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “Thus shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body as already dead (for he was almost a hundred years old) and the dead womb of Sarah. 20 He did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God 21 and was fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do. 22 That is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.””
Therefore, the faith in God is the key to receive His mercy. Without faith, how can people open themselves to receive God’s mercy? Those who are only relying on themselves, is the easiest way to be destroyed because they have no place for God’s mercy to enter.
2.2/ We become righteous by our faith in Christ: What is applied to Abraham is also applied to us, Abraham’s descendants. We become righteous and are Abraham’s descendants because we believe in God, not by carefully keeping the laws as many Pharisees thought. St. Paul confirms: “23 But it was not for him alone that it was written that “it was credited to him”; 24 it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification.”
3/ Gospel: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
3.1/ Compassion has power to reform sinners: In Old Testament, some prophets are very annoyed by sinners and they often declare punishments for them. However, there are not lacking prophets who emphasized on God’s forgiving love. The Book of Jonah is a powerful example. Jonah didn’t want to preach to the Ninevites; but God made him to do it and He gives him the reason: “You are concerned over the gourd plant which cost you no effort and which you did not grow; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. 11And should I not be concerned over the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot know their right hand from their left, not to mention all the animals?” (Ga 4:10-11). In the Book of prophet Ezekiel, we also find a clear message of God’s mercy: “As I live—oracle of the Lord God—I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” (Ez 33:11a).
Jesus can be regarded as the first to preach and to express God’s mercy for sinners. In today report, Matthew is so impressed with God’s mercy, so he stands up, forfeits everything, and follows Jesus. The reason is there is no one treats him as a person except Jesus. Majority of them convicted and prevented him to enter the Temple. The same thing also happened to Zacchaeus, the chief of tax-collectors (Lc 19:5), or to the adulterous woman (Jn 8:1-11). The sinners are easy to humbly recognize their sins and to repent than those who consider themselves as righteous.
3.2/ All people need God’s mercy and compassion since every one commits sins: The Pharisees also need God’s mercy because they are also sinners; but due to their stubbornness and pride, they didn’t recognize their sins and deny God’s compassion.
Moreover, they were angry when Jesus and His disciples enter Matthew’s house, so they questioned his disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
3.3/ Jesus doesn’t come to call the righteous, but to call sinners. Jesus listed out two facts which are so clear to understand to those who have a healthy mind:
(1) “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do”: No one who are healthy and willing to spend money for a doctor; only the sick or those have a symptom will do such. Jesus is the spiritual healer who everyone needs to come to Him to be healed.
(2) “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”: Jesus repeated Hosea’s words in the first reading. To be able to welcome God’s mercy, we also need to practice our mercy for people because only those who are merciful, they shall be worthy for God’s mercy. This is the fifth Beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount. This is also the fifth prayer of the Our Father: “Forgive us as we also forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus also declares: If we don’t forgive people, God won’t forgive our sins.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We need to spend much time to learn Scripture to know and to experience God’s love for us before we can perfectly love Him.
– We can’t do any thing to become righteous. Only our faith in God can help us to become one of the righteous persons.
– All of us are sinners and need God’s mercy and compassion. We should never criticize those who have contacts with sinners.
– Imitating Jesus, we need to bring hope for people who need God’s mercy and call them to return to God’s true love.