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Saturday, March 1, 2008

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Hosea 6:1-6
Psalm 51
Luke 18:9-14

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misplaced confidence

"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 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 Pharisee in the readings 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; 5:6-8). 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 is left to exclaim: "What can I do with you?" (Hos 6:4)

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:  Dealing with a dire family situation taught Miranda how to rely on the strength of the Lord rather than her own.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 14, 2007

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