Tag Archives: reconciliation

“I Will Allure Her”

Commentators say the Book of Hosea, the 8th century Jewish prophet we’re reading at Mass these days, is one of the most difficult books of the bible to understand; its language and its references are often obscure. But one part of Hosea’s story you can recognize in any television soap opera or romantic novel today: It’s a story of marital infidelity, a broken marriage.

Hosea had trouble with his wife, whose name of Gomer. He was very much in love with her; they married and had some children. But Gomer’s not satisfied with Hosea and her family and she leaves them. She wants something else– romance, freedom, new things to see and to do, a new life.

So Hosea is heartbroken and crushed when she leaves him. He doesn’t understand why it’s happened, he’s bewildered and angry and feeling rejected.

Yet he still loves her and tries to win her back. He wants to renew the love they had for each other. Eventually, Gomer comes back, but we’re not really sure if she will stay. What we do know is that Hosea wants to have her back and have their love renewed.

Hosea’s story is an example of God’s relationship to humanity. God loves the world and its people. Yet, we can be unfaithful.  But God’s relationship is like the marital relationship, or as we also see in the Book of Hosea, the relationship of a father or mother to their children. God always wants us back.

You can hear the yearning of Hosea for his wife and the love of God for his people in yesterday’s  reading:

Thus says the LORD:

I will allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart.
She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,
when she came up from the land of Egypt.

On that day, says the LORD,
She shall call me “My husband,”
and never again “My baal.”

I will espouse you to me forever:
I will espouse you in right and in justice,
in love and in mercy;
I will espouse you in fidelity,
and you shall know the LORD.

(Hosea 2:6, 17-18,21-22)

 

 

 

 

4th Sunday of Lent C: The Prodigal Son

To listen to today’s homily, please select the audio bar below.

The story of the prodigal son is one of the longest in the gospel and it’s also one of the most important. It’s not just about a boy who goes astray, of course, it’s about the human race gone wrong.

“Give me what’s mine,” the son says boldly to his father. We all tend to say that. And he takes off for a faraway country, a permissive paradise that promises power and pleasure, in fact, it promises him everything, where he can do anything he wants.

But they’re empty promises, and soon the boy who had so much has nothing and ends up in a pigsty feeding pigs, who eat better than he does.

Then, he takes his first step back. He “comes to himself,” our story says; he realizes what he has done. “I have sinned.”

How straightforward his reaction! Not blaming anybody else for the mess he is in: not his father, or the prostitutes he spent so much of his money on, or society that fooled him. No, he takes responsibility. That “coming to himself” was the first gift of God’s mercy.

He doesn’t wallow in his sin and what it’s brought him, either. He doesn’t let it trap him. He looks beyond it to the place where he belongs, to his father’s house. It wont be an easy road, but he keeps his eyes on it and starts back home.

There he’s surprised by the welcome he receives. More than he ever expected. The father takes into his arms and calls for feast.

His story is our story too.

In these days of Lent, many of us approach the sacrament of reconciliation.  That sacrament is very much like the journey the son takes back to his father. First of all, we look for the mercy of God to come to ourselves, to know our sins and to look for our place in our Father’s house.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. we say beginning our confession. The prayer of the son has become our prayer. We acknowledge our sins.

Then the priest who represents Jesus, who speaks for his Father in heaven, says.

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of our sins.

Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We receive pardon and peace, the gift of God’s mercy.

How easily we leave your side,

Lord God,

for a place far away.

Send light into our darkness,

and open our eyes to our sins.

Unless you give us new hearts and strong spirits,

we cannot make the journey home,

to your welcoming arms and the music and the dancing.

Father of mercies and giver of all gifts,

guide us home

and lead us back to you.

Words Can Kill

In today’s gospel Jesus seems to almost equate anger and harsh words with murder. They’re liable to judgment, he says.

Does that exaggerate the damage words can cause? If you think about it, angry words can just about destroy someone.  Killing someone’s spirit, taking away someone’s reputation may not draw a jail sentence here on earth, but God sees the harm that’s done. Sometimes, so do we.

Murder takes away physical life; we also need to respect another kind of life that people have. “Respect” is a wonderful word. It means “to look again” in Latin, to look again at someone and see a value we may have denied or missed, to constantly reassess how we judge another. Jesus tells us to do this as we come before God’s altar to offer our gift. It’s one of the reasons behind the sign of peace we offer our neighbor at Mass. It’s a sign of respect.

As we look honestly and respectfully at others, we also have to look honestly at ourselves. Respect is a form of love, St. Paul of the Cross writes. It’s “love toward your neighbor, putting up with the faults of others, looking at all with charity and compassion, having a good opinion of everyone and a bad opinion only of yourself. A simple eye lets you see your neighbor as full of virtues and yourself full of vices, but without discouragement, peacefully, humbly.” (Letter 525)

Lord,

make me an instrument of your peace,

bringing life and hope to others, not death.