Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Hosea 14, our first reading, presents a dynamic that is by now familiar to us all.  Collapse, return, restoration.  “You have collapsed through your guilt,” the chapter begins.  Then comes the prophet’s advice: “return to the LORD; say to him, ‘Forgive all iniquity.’”  Then we hear God’s promise: “I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely.”

This dynamic can become tiresome on occasion.  We have all been through it more than once.  Sin, confession, absolution.  I think God understands our weariness, and that is why he inspired poetic words in his prophet Hosea.  He describes Israel’s restitution using these metaphors: dew, lily blossom, Lebanon cedar, growing roots, olive tree, fragrance of cedar, cool of the shade, rising grain, vine, wine.  Any one of these metaphors would serve for an Ignatian contemplation, helping us to appreciate how much God wants us to be restored after we fall.  He does not force us to turn back to him, but he calls us with rich poetry.

It is inevitable that we fall, at least occasionally.  What matters, then, is how we handle our failure, and even in the deepest pit, God reaches a hand out to us.  When we next collapse, let us collapse only into the arms of a God who loves us.

March 4th, 2016