Thursday – A Father's Love
Earlier in the week we heard about God's courtship of His people. Today we learn of His fatherly care. Speaking through the prophet Hosea, God declares that long ago He called the child Israel out of Egypt and made him His son. He held His people close, teaching them to walk in His ways, nourishing them, healing them, and loving them. As a father holds a baby close and cuddles him, so God did with Israel.
But Israel rebelled and turned away from God, striking out on his own, worshiping other "gods" to get what he thought he wanted. Like any father who wants the best for his child, God became angry. He could see that Israel was throwing his life away and turning his back on everything good for him. So He punished His wayward son in order to teach him a lesson and draw him back to the right path. He had to take a tough love approach.
God, with His fatherly heart, could not stay angry with His child forever, though. He knew Israel's weaknesses and took compassion on him, and He vowed to protect His son and remain with him always.
God is a father to each of us, too. He teaches, nourishes, heals, and loves us, but He also punishes and corrects us when we stray. Sometimes He has to show us some tough love. But we can be one hundred percent sure that, no matter what, God will never abandon us. He loves us far too much to ever leave us.
Friday – Speaking
Today's readings are connected by the theme of speaking. We are encouraged to use language to express repentance, to praise God, and to spread the Gospel.
In the first reading, God speaks to Israel through the prophet Hosea and tells His people to “Take with you words, and return to the Lord.” He even instructs them about what to say. They are to ask for forgiveness, pray that God accepts the sacrifices they offer, declare that they have no other help but God, renounce idols, and recognize God's compassion. God, in return, declares that He will heal them, love them, protect them, and cause them to flourish.
The psalm also urges us to speak, for the psalmist prays, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” Knowing that on his own he cannot worship God as He deserves, the psalmist asks for help, for God to put words into his mouth that he may praise Him well.
Finally, the Gospel offers a twist on the idea of speaking. Jesus warns his apostles that they will suffer persecution for their faith. They will be handed over to courts and religious leaders, governors and kings. But they are not to worry about what they will say when that time comes, for the Holy Spirit will speak through them to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to the whole world. They just have to open themselves and let Him work.
We, too, are called to speak to God and for God. We must approach our Lord with words that come from our hearts, words of repentance and love, words of praise and worship. We are to speak the Gospel, too, and especially to allow God to speak through us, His instruments, in order to spread His message far and wide.
Saturday – Here I Am
Here I am! Send me! Do we have the courage to follow in the footsteps of the prophet Isaiah, who spoke these words in response to God's call? Do we trust God enough to follow His plan for our lives, to listen to His voice, and to answer with open hearts? Do we believe that God will care for us and guide us in every task He sets before us?
Do we have what it takes to cry out to God, “Here I am! Send me!”?