Today’s readings point to the very core of the truth about our humanity, and God’s amazing plan for it. If you were to choose a point within scripture to revisit and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand, these would probably be good candidates:
“Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the LORD; Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good,”
– Hosea 14:1-3
“Repent, says the Lord; the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
– Matthew 4:17
One gift which every human has been given graciously by God is a conscience. Even for those with many sinful ways and painful injuries, natural law is imprinted into our very being, and drives us, who are made in God’s image and likeness, to seek and participate in goodness, beauty, and truth. The opening quote above, from the book of Hosea, implores us to let this reality of our guilt lead us to humbly ask God forgiveness for our sins. This recognition of our own sin is a starting point for the journey back into God’s love. Our persons, injured from Adam and Eve’s original sin, are prone to allow a twisting up of themselves by the evil one; and what results are deep wounds, shame of self, malice towards all, and fear of death. It is in this context that we would continue to devolve were we to deny the healing, and redeeming promise made by God in the next verses of this chapter 14 of Hosea.
“I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely;”
– Hosea 14:5
What love! That the betrayals and revolts of our hearts away from the only One who truly knows us, when repented of sincerely, should be responded to with a healing touch, and a warm embrace, unrestricted by any of our inadequacies. It is this freely given love from the One who created us that our hearts, bodies, minds, and souls may rest peacefully in the cradle of His love and receive life-giving and healing graces. True healing only comes through our Lord, and if one sincerely desires the fulfillment of God’s promise, God will give His revivifying love.
“He shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots. His splendor shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar. Again they shall dwell in his shade and raise grain; They shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”
– Hosea 14:6-8
Beauty and Goodness
So, can it really be this good? Is the love that God wants to communicate with us really such that our whole person, which include soul and body, would be elevated to such beauty and goodness? The imagery provided by this passage, when actually applied to an individual human being and desired by one, would seem nearly scandalous to some in our times. This is the voice of the evil one, who hates human beings very much. Christ’s coming was the birth into the world of perfection in the mind, soul, and body. As He gives himself to us in the Eucharist and in the Holy Spirit through prayer, sacraments, and other good means, we are brought towards that same perfection. Take heart in this, and consider what it may mean for your approach to acceptance of Him. Let him proceed into you in the Eucharist and the sacraments. This love, when accepted radically, actively changes people to become closer to all God created them to be, and creates in them a fertile bed in which God can give holiness, which is the best thing for each of us.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
– Mark 12:29-31
With what we know of God’s unfathomable love for each of us individually, we can know that although this greatest commandment is indeed one to be obeyed, it is also an invitation to allow ourselves to be perfected through Christ and his Church.