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The Love of a Father

First Reading: Hosea 11:1-4, 8E-9

Thus says the LORD:
When Israel was a child I loved him,
out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the farther they went from me,
Sacrificing to the Baals
and burning incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
who took them in my arms;
I drew them with human cords,
with bands of love;
I fostered them like one
who raises an infant to his cheeks;
Yet, though I stooped to feed my child,
they did not know that I was their healer.

My heart is overwhelmed,
my pity is stirred.
I will not give vent to my blazing anger,
I will not destroy Ephraim again;
For I am God and not man,
the Holy One present among you;
I will not let the flames consume you.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 80:2AC AND 3B, 15-16

R. (4b) Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken.
From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power.
R. Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see:
Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted,
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.

Gospel: Matthew 10:7-15

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“As you go, make this proclamation:
‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts;
no sack for the journey, or a second tunic,
or sandals, or walking stick.
The laborer deserves his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it,
and stay there until you leave.
As you enter a house, wish it peace.
If the house is worthy,
let your peace come upon it;
if not, let your peace return to you.
Whoever will not receive you or listen to your wordsC
go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town.”

DEV_JU7

Have you ever read the whole book of Hosea? It so powerful. God asks the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, who proves to be as unfaithful as everyone expects her to be. But Hosea accepts her back every time. The image of the unfaithful wife is present throughout the whole prophetic book, as Hosea foretells of the exile and return of the Israelites all because they would not remain faithful to their God, their husband, their Father.

Every time I read from Hosea my heart aches to hear the longing and love of a rejected and faithful God for His people.

Thus says the LORD:
When Israel was a child I loved him,
out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the farther they went from me.

When I read this, I think of how I myself do not always hear God calling me to Him. I have gone through periods of my life where prayer has not been a priority, where things of the world are more alluring, and I have been like Israel forgetting who made me His child.

I also forget about God on a daily and hourly basis. I lose my cool with my unreasoning children. I forget the task I am supposed to be doing and do something else. I allow myself to be so overcome with anxiety or discouragement that I forget that it is God who is helping me through my day.

And then there is this poetry of love from Scriptures:

I drew them with human cords,
with bands of love;
I fostered them like one
who raises an infant to his cheeks;
Yet, though I stooped to feed my child,
they did not know that I was their healer.

How could I forget about this Fatherly love? How could I forget about my healer who has made me whole, who continues to make me whole from moment to moment?

These are the Fatherly caresses of One who truly cares. But we so easily forget Who it is who loves us. A beautiful spiritual practice we can do to remember God, is to interiorly place ourselves in His presence throughout the day. Whenever you think of it, think of Him. The more you do it, the more you will remember.

My heart is overwhelmed,
my pity is stirred . . . 
For I am God and not man,
the Holy One present among you;
I will not let the flames consume you.

God’s ways are not our ways. And He has mercy. Let Him love you. He will not let you go. He is always calling you back. And He will always heal you.

If these verses resonate with you, take time to read all of Hosea. Hear and feel the love of a truly forgiving lover and Father. He will not let the flames consume you, if you truly seek His love.

photo credit

Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls, baby boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here.

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