The Book of the Prophet Hosea is replete with messages of love and forgiveness. God sometimes seems more human there than in any other place with regard to the “chosen people,” Israel. In today’s lectionary reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (HOS 11: 1-4, 8-9), we hear Hosea speaking for God saying, “When Israel was a child I loved him…It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms…” but then, disappointed, God laments, “Yet though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer…My heart is overwhelmed; my pity is stirred…” Like a disappointed parent, God is challenged by feelings of anger toward the ones on whom he has lavished so much love and care. But like those parents who love their offspring unconditionally, God remembers who he is: “I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you…” and, like a loving parent, God repents.
My heart is always stirred when I hear the song “Hosea” by Gregory Norbert that speaks of this relationship from God’s perspective. That we have a God so desirous of us, so willing to forgive in any situation, is enough for me to know. It reminds me that God is never absent but rather with me in every moment if I will just wake up to that loving presence that ignites my willingness to live my best possible life. It is in God, as St. Paul says, that we “live and move and have our being.” All we need to do is remember and return.