Scripture: Lectionary 383, July 9. Hosea 2:16.17-18. 21-22. Psalm 145:2-3.4-5.6-7.8-9. Matthew 9:18-26:
Hosea is the first of the “Minor Prophets” (so named because they are shorter than the three Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel). Hosea is a contemporary of Isaiah, Amos, and Micah. We learn a tremendous about God’s love for Israel as a husband not a “baal”. Baal was a fertility god who was known as a god of thunder. The word is also used for a husband among the nations that surrounded Israel.
“The Lord is kind and merciful.” This is our psalm response in the liturgy of the word (Psalm 145:4). It is a beautiful parallel to how Hosea represents God’s love for Israel who is considered the spouse of God. Hosea gives us a powerful scene in which he represents God as wooing his wife into the desert to speak intimae words to her heart and win her back. God loves Israel so much that he never wants her to leave him. How can she resist such a loving, kind and merciful husband? He want her to renew the covenant they had and now has been broken by her turning to other gods under the collective name of “baal.” Unlike these gods, the God of Israel is faithful and loving in all of his relationships with her—heart, mind, and soul. God is not like a master but an equal in the covenant relationship of love with her. They have meant to be one always because of the covenantal love they have.
Did Hosea have such an experience with his own wife that he could write such a unique and striking prophetic scroll? He speaks so vividly about the scenes and symbols he writes about that this may have been his own personal experience in marriage and then used as a way of speaking to the heart of wayward Israel. God inspired his writing. God does want Israel to always be in love with him. Again and again the lover has to be brought back, but God does this through his mercy, kindness and faithfulness. We learn the lesson of not faltering in our love for God nor in our wandering away toward other baals or material gods.
Jesus continues that faithful love of God in the healing of a young girl and a woman who suffers from frequent hemorrhages. Both God and Jesus are telling us what Hosea says: “I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord.”
And the Psalm speaks about this love of God: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.” (Psalm 145: 8-9). Jesus restores life and love to those who have lost them and we know this all too well! Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.