"What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah?"—Hosea 6:4
The Israelite worshipers sang a hymn which expressed their confidence that God would respond favorably to their offerings and sacrifices: "He will heal us...He will bind our wounds...He will raise us up, to live in His presence...as certain as the dawn is His coming" (Hos 6:1-3). Jesus painted a similar picture in today's gospel reading. The Pharisee has offered sacrifices of tithes, fasting, and a life of holy deeds (Lk 18:11-12). Just as his ancestors did, he prayed confidently to God, offering another splendid sacrifice of prayer and holiness. The Israelites and the Pharisee were confident that God was delighted with offerings and prayers. However, God reacts to these beautiful hymns and prayers with frustration and disgust! He laments: "What can I do with you?" (Hos 6:4)
We are right to approach God confidently. The Lord approves this attitude (see 2 Cor 3:12; Heb 11:35; 2 Cor 5:6-7). However, when we place our confidence in the power of our own efforts to move God, we are "like a morning cloud...that early passes away" (Hos 6:4). We fade away and God won't do anything with us.
However, when we place all our confidence in Him and none in ourselves (Lk 18:13), then we truly have knowledge of God (Hos 6:6). Now God can say to us: "What can I do with you? I will do with you greater works than Jesus Himself did" (see Jn 14:12).
Prayer: "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Lk 18:13).
Promise: "It is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts." — Hos 6:6
Praise: John died a happy death. He passed into eternal life with Jesus while kneeling in prayer before the church altar.
(This teaching was submitted by one of our editors.)
Nihil obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, August 1, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 6, 1996
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