Readings: Hosea 2:16, 17-18, 21-22; Ps 144/145; Matthew 9:18-26
'Jesus rose and followed him'. We are more used to this phrase being used about people who follow Jesus: they take up their beds and follow him, they leave their nets and follow him, they leave their tax office and follow him. But here we are told that Jesus gets up and follows the man whose daughter has died. Jesus too is obedient, he hears a call and he responds to it.
The first reading, a well known and very beautiful passage from Hosea, teaches us about the kind of relationship God wants to have with His people. It is not to be that of master and slave in which one kind of obedience will be found but that of bridegroom and bride in which another kind of obedience will be found. The obedience in marriage is mutual, between equals, arising from the committed love of bride and groom. Love is the source of this obedience and so it is an obedience that is completely free. This is how God wants His people to be relating to Him. But it also binds God to a comparable obedience for the covenant is always two sided.
The love of Christ compels us, St Paul says in 2 Corinthians. There is a love compelling God also. Or better the love that God is compels Him. We learn from Jesus, God-with-us, that He too is listening out for human need, for the places and people who need compassion and help. His obedience is to turn towards those people and those places, to respond to the call of their poverty and distress, to get up and seek them out.
It is the ideal of obedience for which we strive, an obedience that arises simply and solely from love and that gets all its meaning from the love from which it flows. Of course there are other loves, other desires, jostling together in us but we can pray that this love, for Christ and his way, will become more and more the fundamental and dominant love of our lives, the one that obliges us to the obedience of love, the utterly free obedience which, Jesus shows us, God is.