Today’s first reading is again taken from the Book of Hosea. In the Hebrew Bible, Hosea was an 8th-century BC prophet in Israel who authored the book of prophecies bearing his name. He is also known as one of the Minor Prophets of the Christian Old Testament. (“Minor” because of the length of his book, not because of his importance, compared with the “Major” prophets.)
Today’s passage (Hosea 6:1-6) is again filled with striking imagery.
Come, let us return to the Lord, / it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; / he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds. / He will revive us after two days; / on the third day he will raise us up, / to live in his presence. / Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord; / as certain as the dawn is his coming, / and his judgment shines forth like the light of day! / He will come to us like the rain, / like spring rain that waters the earth.”
What can I do with you, Ephraim? / What can I do with you, Judah? / Your piety is like a morning cloud, / like the dew that early passes away. / For this reason, I smote them through the prophets, / I slew them by the words of my mouth; / For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, / and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
We may have started Lent with our own idea of what we would sacrifice – the pre-dinner glass of wine, chocolate, a limit to television watching and Facebook – but God has a different idea. Who would have imagined on Ash Wednesday what sacrifices would be demanded of us now in the Third Week of Lent? And yet, what is really asked of us is “knowledge of God”, that is, knowing how God loves, and doing the same.
In reflecting on today’s reading, Michelle Francl-Donnay imagines God saying, “Tell me not what others did or didn’t do, but tell me how you loved, and how you failed to love.” (emphasis mine)
Q. Where, today, have I failed to love as God loves – without measure?
Q. What invitation will I extend or respond to in order to show my love for God today?