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.

About 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 all guilt away and give us what is good, instead of bulls we will dedicate to you our lips.

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

Nor is there much good in looking for help in powerful neighbours like Assyria, nor in the ‘riding of horses’ (perhaps a reference to Egypt). Rather God is “the one in whom orphans find compassion”.

God will bring his healing:

I shall cure them of disloyalty, I shall love them with all my heart

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

-I will be like the dew for Israel,
-they will blossom like the lily
-they will strike root like a cedar of Lebanon
-and put forth shoots splendid as the olive tree
-fragrant as a cedar of Lebanon
-produce grain and blossom like the vine
-become as famous as the wine of Lebanon

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

If we could learn that only through the ways of life which God proposes can be found the true fulfilment of our deepest longings, then we will experience a deep happiness right through 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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