Friday of Week 3 of Lent – First Reading

Commentary on Hosea 14:2-10

Both of today’s readings are about our total commitment to God. Regarding the First Reading, the Vatican II Missal tells us:

“More than any other prophet, Hosea tells about God’s love for his people.”

After many negative words from the prophet to God’s people, Hosea in this last part of his book sounds a note of hope, which he had already hinted at earlier. Today’s passage is a liturgical prayer expressing sincere repentance, concluding with a firm promise of God’s blessing.

In this closing passage of his book, Hosea calls the people back to God. The troubles they have been experiencing are due to their alienation from God. If they will only come back to him, where they belong, their lives will flourish. God is only too anxious to shower his love and gifts on them.

Hosea urges the people to say:

Take away all guilt;
accept that which is good,
and we will offer
the fruit of our lips.

In other words, expressions of true repentance will take the place of purely external rituals.

There is there not much good in looking for help from powerful neighbours like Assyria, nor from those who “ride upon horses” (perhaps a reference to Egypt). Rather God is the one in whom “the orphan finds mercy”.

God will bring his healing:

I will heal their disloyalty;
I will love them freely…

These gifts and their results are expressed in lovely phrases taken from plant life:

I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon.
His shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like that of Lebanon.
They shall again live beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish as a garden;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

God then compares himself to the greenness of a cypress tree (and this is unique in the Old Testament), a source of life and fruitfulness for his people.

If we could learn that only through the way of life which God proposes can we find the true fulfilment of our deepest longings, then we will experience a deep happiness throughout our life. During this Lent let us open our hearts to a total and unconditional love of God and of those around us.

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