Friday of the 3rd Week of Lent
Hosea 14:2-10; Mark 12:28-34
Pope Francis shared this reflection: “God’s forgiveness is what we all need, and it is the greatest sign of His mercy. A gift that every forgiven sinner is called upon to share with every brother and sister he or she meets. It is beautiful to be forgiven, but you too, if you wish to be forgiven, forgive in turn. Forgive!” (General audience, March 30, 2016) The words of the prophet Hosea were spoken to the heart of the people of Israel and his words still resonate in our hearts today. We all know the burden of guilt and the alienation that comes with sin. We know the disorientation that comes from walking in the land of unlikeness. According to monastic tradition, God created man and woman in his image and likeness, but the image was distorted by sin. Because Word became Flesh and took our human nature to himself, we can journey from the “land of unlikeness” back the “land of likeness.” Because of God’s infinite mercy and by His will we can be recreated in the divine image which we have lost.
Different from God, Satan, the Prince of Darkness, reveals our shame and accuses us of wrong-doing day and night. The Eternal Word, on the other hand, who is the image of the invisible God clothed himself in our fallen nature. Overcome by shame, Adam and Eve tried to hide their nakedness. The Son of Man, on the other hand, when he stood naked before his tormentors, knew no shame. He exposed himself to the cruel torture of the scourge for our sake. “He was beaten so that we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Is. 53:5). The Son of God came into the world, not to proclaim our sinful shame, but to take it to himself. The apostle to the gentiles tells us: “You know the generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, for your sake he sacrificed all he possessed, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). The closer we draw to God, the more we come to experience God’s loving embrace. The more we revel in this embrace, the more we show mercy and compassion towards others. The wounds of sin are healed by God’s outstretched hand. The Beloved Son came into the world to seek and find all who were lost. In coming to know ourselves as sought and loved, we grow in or ability to love God, our neighbor, and ourselves.
God blesses each of us and He sends his Spirit down upon us like the dewfall (CF. Eucharistic Prayer II). As God’s grace soaks into our souls, we grow upward like the lily. As God’s grace softens the seedbed our hearts, we put forth strong roots like the Lebanon cedar. Spiritual growth consists of the strength of the root and in the budding forth of the flower that gives forth the sweet aroma of holiness. God will be the cause of joy for all who repent of their sins. He will be the shield against the attacks of the enemy. For those who lift their eyes to the heights, Christ is the Bread of Life and the Rock of Salvation. Christ’s Paschal victory is not a past event. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, His passion, death and glorious resurrection are ever-present. In the light of glory shining from His face, we can recognize his presence in all we meet. To Him be glory and honor and praise both now and forever. Amen