9th July. Wednesday, Week 14.
Ss Augustine Zhao and Companions, Chinese martyrs.
The Church recognizes 120 Catholics who died between 1648 and 1930 as its Chinese martyrs, canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000. Of this number, 86 died during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, among them three indigenous Chinese priests, Augustine Zhao Rong, Joseph Yuan and Thaddeus Liu. Others were foreign missionaries, catechists, seminarians, old and young women, farmers and cooks.
First Reading: Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12
(Infidelity has produced a seemingly hopeless situation, through endemic social injustice.)
Israel is a luxuriant vine
that produces his fruit. According to the abundance of his fruit
he has multiplied his altars. As their land has prospered,
they have adorned their sacred pillars. Their heart is divided. Now they will be found guilty. God will demolish their altars. He will destroy their sacred pillars. Surely now they will say,
“We have no king.”
For they do not fear the Lord;
and the king, what can he do for them?
Samaria and her king float away,
like a twig on the water. The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel,
will be destroyed. The thorn and the thistle
will come up on their altars. Then they will tell the mountains,
“Cover us!” and the hills, “Fall on us!”
Sow for yourselves in righteousness,
reap according to kindness. Break up your new field;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes and rains righteousness on you.
Gospel: Matthew 10:1-7
(Jesus gives his apostles the power to heal, and sends them to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.)
Jesus called to himself his Twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness. Now the names of the Twelve Apostles are these. The first, Simon, who is called Peter; Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee; John, his brother; Philip; Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus sent these Twelve out, and commanded them, saying, “Do not go among the Gentiles, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans. Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, preach, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’
Giving and Sharing
“Go out to the lost sheep and proclaim, “The Kingdom of heaven is near.”
In God’s ideal kingdom, the world’s produce is to be shared with everyone; and by goodwill and planning there should be plenty for all. Much later in its history, the Israelite kingdom would deny this right of sharing in resources, and social justice was neglected. Whenever the poor are wronged, prosperous folk tend to worship gods other than Yahweh. But when the wealthy selfishly let their neighbours go hungry, fearless prophets rose to voice the anger of God, who rescues his poor out of slavery.
Somehow, the way must be found to share in each other’s gifts without losing our human dignity and sense of equality. Economic measures are never enough of themselves; the solution must have a religious dimension too. Mere legal compliance allows for many loopholes and clever manipulation, and sooner or later injustice and idolatry become rampant like weeds in the once luxuriant vineyard. When we give to others, remember that it is a God-willed sharing, not a one-way giving. In this process, we are learning as much as teaching; for we are as needy as our neighbour, even if in different ways.