Meditation for Friday of the 3rd Week of Lent
(Hos 14:1-9; Mk 12:28-34)
We hear a special call for repentance, a total turnaround from evil ways to submission to the Lord God. The prophet Hosea announces, “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” To achieve this, the people must first take away all evil ways. Secondly, they must accept and practice what is good. Thirdly, “We will render the fruit of our lips”, which is authentic worship. No more shall they trust in human powers i.e hoping that a strong nation like Assyria would rescue them. Worse still, Israel would not worship idols anymore. A mark of this turnaround is their show of mercy; “In you the orphan finds mercy.”
Hosea announced that if they make this turnaround, the Lord promised to heal their faithlessness; “I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be as dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily, shall strike root as the poplar…” And the beauty of Israel shall blossom like the olive, with spread out fragrance and he shall flourish like a garden beneath my shadow. The Lord takes care of Israel, why then do they go after idols? The Lord God is like an evergreen cypress, from which comes fruit. “For the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.”
Imagine the great delight and providence the Lord offers to those who turnaround and walk under His shadow! Think about the pull or the great force that can make a man to totally change his ways… Only the Love of God, the fragrance of His love, can perform such wonder! And one who has successfully made this turnaround loves God with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind and all his strength. But it is not possible for anyone to claim to have loved God completely in heart, mind, soul, and body. So, we must continue to strive to make this TURNAROUND, which is now to love God without turning back!
As we continue to turnaround and render to God the love of our life, our lives shall be rooted secure like the poplar, we shall drink from the delight of His love, which is tastier than wine; the fragrance of His love shall flood our heart and soul, and we shall dwell beneath the shadow of His love. That means, our lives will speak of His love; our actions will testify of His love to our neighbour. “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Therefore, since we are in motion, making a constant turnaround to perfect our love in the God, whose love draws us to Himself, our words and actions must draw our neighbour to God and not to ourselves. Yes, since love of God is the first commandment, love of neighbour must point the neighbour to God. This how we too spread the fragrance of His love. Our acts of charity this Lent should help people turnaround to love God. At the end Jesus says, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
May your love be upon us Oh Lord; as we place all our hope in you. Amen.