Lord, (Don't) Give Me a Sign.
Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13.
The Fourteenth Tuesday of Ordinary Time.
Readings from Cycle II of the feria, according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
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10:00 AM 7/8/2014 —
When they sow the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind;
The stalk of grain that forms no ear can yield no flour;
Even if it could, strangers would swallow it (Hosea 8:7).
The Prophet Hosea in today's first lesson.
This will probably date me, but I was here at the Shrine when I first heard about the alleged apparitions of the Mother of God at Bayside, New York, which supposedly began in 1970 and continued right through 1995. Those pretended apparitions were, of course, a hoax, which was known early on when the Bishop of Brooklyn pointed out that the content of many of the messages was in direct conflict with fundamental Catholic teaching. I first heard about them here at the Shrine because I had run into a woman who was visiting here who had been running bus trips from New Jersey to Bayside on a monthly basis to be present at these apparitions which, supposedly, where occurring on a fixed schedule; and this was well after the Holy See had declared the apparitions fraudulent. But it started me thinking:—and I've pondered this many times over the years—what is it about some people that they feel they must grab onto any and every hint of supernatural phenomena that comes along like a drowning man grabbing for a life preserver? And the only answer I can come up with is a complete and total lack of faith. Some people chase after apparitions because an apparition provides proof where faith has failed. One is reminded of the words of Our Lord: “Thou hast learned to believe, Thomas, because thou hast seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have learned to believe” (John 20:29).
I, for one, am very grateful that I was not around to witness the Miracle of the Sun, because I would hate to believe that Our Lady would think that I would need to see it. I would much rather believe that my faith would not require any proof. Those of us who believe in the messages of Our Blessed Mother at Fatima do so not because we are faithless people searching for some sort of proof, but because of the timely content of those messages: we see the condition of our world, and understand the dire need for reparation; and, we count it a privilege to have been recruited by Our Blessed Mother to be a part of the solution, principally through our First Saturday observance of Confession, Mass and Holy Communion done in the spirit of reparation.
But, to make reparation, one has to believe in the first place. In fact, only a person of very strong faith can make reparation, because he or she is making up for the lack of faith in others. That's what distinguishes a true apparition like Fatima from a false one: a true apparition comes to someone of faith who isn't looking for it, and who is awfully surprised when it happens.
The Prophet Hosea speaking the words of God once again from our first lesson:
When Ephraim made many altars to expiate sin, his altars became occasions of sin. Though I write for him my many ordinances, they are considered as a stranger's. Though they offer sacrifice, immolate flesh and eat it, the Lord is not pleased with them. He shall still remember their guilt and punish their sins... (8:11-13).
In other words, Ephraim thinks he's being pious: he erects all these altars, makes all these ritual sacrifices, thinking that this is what God wants; but, when God gives him commandments explaining how his people should live their lives, those are just ignored as if they came from some stranger. If Ephraim really wanted to please God, he'd stop erecting altars everywhere and start living the commandments.
Today's Gospel includes those words we so often associate with our prayers for—and fostering of—vocations to the Holy Priesthood. I like Msgr. Knox's translation: “The harvest is plentiful enough, but the labourers are few; you must ask the Lord to whom the harvest belongs to send labourers out for the harvesting” (Matt. 9:37). I'm not suggesting that priestly vocations should not be constantly in our prayers, especially when we read those words; but, in the context of today's Mass I would suggest that the harvest isn't simply souls who need priests, but souls who need reparation because they are not living the commandments; and, the laborers are really all of us who have been recruited by Our Lady to perform this essential task.