Take words with you and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all guilt; accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.”
I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily, he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon. His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like that of Lebanon. They shall again live beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom like the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; your faithfulness comes from me.Those who are wise understand these things; those who are discerning know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
My Lent is often bleak: dust and ashes, repentance and fasting. In Chicago, Lent and the endless winter coincide—cold winds offer lashings and another snowstorm adds a few more inches of white. We suffer through gray, slushy days.
Right in the middle of Lenten repentance, Hosea offers a feast for our senses, along with words of promise and hope. Imagine dew sparkling in the morning; a lily bursting open; the deep delving roots, new shoots and fragrance of the Lebanon cedar; and the verdant cypress tree. The Lord says that Israel shall dwell in the shade, raise grain and blossom. “Because of me you bear fruit!”
Hosea’s words resonate with me, reminding me of springtime and resurrection, compassion and healing. Today, we may find hints of spring, like snowdrops or crocus shoots. May we pray, too, for the wisdom and prudence to walk the straight paths of the Lord!
—Maureen M. Martin is a writer, spiritual director and hospice chaplain, living in Evanston, IL.
Lord, may we cling to your promise that life triumphs over death. May the words from a popular song remind us that death will not have the final word:
“When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong Just remember in the winter far beneath the winter snow Lies the seed that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes the rose.”
—Bette MidlerPlease share the Good Word with your friends!