These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God. “For in you the orphan finds compassion.” I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them. I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily. (Hos 14:2-10)
The conclusion of the prophecy of Hosea is a promise of God’s salvation, revealed in justice: God has compassion on the orphan.
Thus says the LORD: When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. 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. 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. (Hos 11:1-4; 8E-9)
Some of the most tender images in all the Scriptures . . . that’s how God is with us, the God who teaches us to walk, the God who heals.
“Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.” (Hos 10:1-3, 7-8, 12)
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Mt 10:1-7)
The message is NOT “Repent, this is the end of the world!” but rather “NOW is the time to seek the Lord so that justice may come upon us.” The message is not “threat”, but rather “salvation”.
Though they offer sacrifice, immolate flesh and eat it, the LORD is not pleased with them. He shall still remember their guilt and punish their sins; they shall return to Egypt. (Hos 8:4-7, 11-13)
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt 9:32-38)
“They shall return to Egypt” is a figurative way of saying they will be held captive and become slaves again, negating the salvation the Lord won for them. But God has compassion on us in sending us the Good Shepherd.
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. She shall call me “My husband,” and never again “My baal.” (Hos 2:16, 17c-18, 21-22)
In the daily Mass we begin reading the Prophet Hosea. Hosea and Amos were contemporaries. Hosea is from the northern kingdom and prophesied there. Hosea uses the image of adultery (being unfaithful) as a sign of Israel’s relationship with God. Today is also the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the United States. Perhaps, Hosea and Amos still have words to speak to us today.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world . . . From now on, let no one make troubles for me;
for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. (Gal 6:14-18)
The stigmata (bearing the wounds of Christ in one’s flesh) is not something to marvel at, as people tend to do. The problem is that people never recognize the wounds of Christ in the poor, in those ravaged by disease, in those marginalized by society. Their wounds are the true stigmata of Christ, and those wounds accuse us all. Perhaps Saint Paul has a point in reminding us that we should only boast in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus says the LORD: On that day I will raise up the fallen hut of David; I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old. (Am 9:11-15)
Some folks think that these final verses from the prophecy of Amos are an editorial addition from a later time. It is true that these last verses are quite different from the previous prophetic preaching in that they hold out the promise of restoration. But even so, I don’t think the Davidic kings would refer to their palaces as “the fallen hut of David.” Of course, the Virgin Mary reminds us all that God “casts down the mighty from their thrones . . . and fills the hungry with every good thing.”