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July 9, 2018 - Courted by God

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Every relationship needs to be revitalized over the course of time. Even though my husband and I have been married over 34 years, we both need those “special times”- weekends away or date nights- that help rekindle the fire of our love. In today’s first reading we hear how God wants to “allure” Israel back into a loving relationship with Him. These words are not just for the people of Hosea’s time, but I believe are words for our ears as well.  God calls each of us to rekindle our love with Him, so we once again can know the LORD.

In today’s first reading, the prophet Hosea describes God as a suitor trying to woo the people of Israel back to Him.  God explains that He will lead “her into the desert and speak to her heart.”  God commits to this union in justice, love, mercy and fidelity.  And God calls Israel to respond to this invitation as one who commits to a marriage- as a spouse who will be committed only to God forever.  In this call of love, God remembers the early days of Israel’s covenant relationship when He rescued them from the Egyptians.  God also recognizes the Israelites have not always been faithful to Him, since at times past their attention had been turned to other gods.  God portrays the perfect spouse- forgiving, loving, committed and persistent in pursuing his lover at all costs. 

Although the words of Hosea were written long ago, I believe that these words are God’s call for us today. God invites us into a loving relationship with Him.  He has already shown HIs great love for us through the gift of Jesus, His Spirit and all of creation.  God also knows that we have at times placed other gods before Him- wealth, power, prestige, control are only a few of the things that become our “baal” today in the world.   The good news is that our God is a persistent suitor and continues to “allure” us back to Him.   

How are we called to respond to this invitation from God?  Just as in ages past, I think that God calls us “into the desert” to help us grow in our love for Him.  I do not think that God actually plans on taking us to a desert, but I do believe that God recognizes our need to be free from distractions.  Although most of us may not have the time to go on a retreat for days or weeks away, we can still try to remove ourselves to places where we can give our full attention to God.   Whether it is 5, 10 or even 30 minutes a day, God desires our time and attention because He knows this is how love is nurtured. Like Jesus in the gospel reading when He takes the little girl by the hand and brings her new life, so too does Jesus reach out His Hand to us as He desires to bring us to new life in Him.  Through prayer, scripture or just resting in His presence, God reveals Himself to us and through this sharing- we come to know God.  

Similar to a marriage, the more time that is spent together, the more opportunity there is for a deeper understanding of the other person. The more we know about God- the more we will recognize His great love and mercy for us. But in courtship there can sometimes be a sense of “let us learn about each other and then see what happens.”  God wants to take this further - God wants to espouse us to Him forever.  When God says “I love you” – He means this for all time. He wants us to be able to return this same devotion and love- but He knows we need help.  This is where our faith steps in.  It is through the grace of God’s Spirit and the living example of His Son Jesus that we learn and grow in our ability to love as God does.  As a true lover, God does not force us to respond, but He continually beckons and “allures” us to Him.   

Today, spend some time in the “desert” with God. Turn off your phone, computer, television, and come away by yourself. In the silence, let God speak to you and share His words of mercy and love.  If we come with open hearts, then these times set aside for God can help revitalize our relationship with Him. With open ears may we hear God speak, so we can grow in our love for God, and His love can grow within us.  May we then take this love just as Jesus did and share it with the world. 

"Loving Father, You call us to be your people.  Jesus shows us the perfect way to say “yes” to Your love. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit may we hear you speak to us and may we respond in love for you.  May we become vehicles of your love, mercy and justice for the entire world, so all people will know you are LORD. We pray this through Christ our LORD. Amen."

- Marylynn Herchline