Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070720.cfm
For the rest of this week our first readings are from the prophet Hosea. Poor Hosea, however. Anyone who knew about Hosea's life could only feel sorry for him. The reality was, his wife Gomer, the mother of his 3 children, was a harlot, but he thought she was beautiful, and he loved her. During their marriage, she goes back to her former lifestyle, becomes unfaithful to Hosea and has many lovers. Hosea is heartbroken but he never ever stopped loving her. Sadly, through all her infidelity, she never thinks of Hosea. Yet, he waits patiently for her, seeks her out, and loves her always.
This background about Hosea’s relationship to his wife is important to know because he uses his own marriage as an analogy to point out the infidelity and sins of Israel against God. Hosea's marriage became a living sermon.
- As Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea, Israel was unfaithful to God.
- As Hosea loved and was faithful to Gomer, God loved and was faithful to Israel.
In both his personal life and his preaching, Hosea witnessed that God’s love is faithful, forgiving, and everlasting. In an earlier verse, Hosea proclaims a beautiful prophesy from the Lord, which was also the way he felt about his wife: "I want to allure her away with me. I will speak to her heart. If she runs after other lovers, I will run after her. She will be mine forever. "
Hosea's name means "salvation". He was known to be a tender prophet, and a prophet of grace who ministered to a wicked society. The people were lawless, rebellious, and unjust. Hosea kept pleading with them to repent. He declared the Lord's continuing love for his wayward, backsliding people, much like he himself declared his continuing love and loyalty for Gomer. Hosea's message was one of God's grace and love, a love that remained constant even though scorned by Israel.
Through all his grief, Hosea always left the door open for Gomer to come home. God, too, always leaves the door open for his people to repent and return to God. As we listen to the strong voice of Hosea this week, we will hear the Lord's tender call return to God's loving embrace. It is a reminder to us of who God is for us. We are graced by God who loves us despite our sinfulness, despite our wanderings, despite our forgetting him. Hosea had that kind of love for Gomer. We are graced by the gift of Eucharist and of Jesus who wants to hold us to his heart forever. This is the special love God has for us.