Page 12, 28th February 2003

28th February 2003
Page 12
Page 12, 28th February 2003 — The Word

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The 8th Sunday of the Year Hosea 2: 16-17 & 21-22 2 Corinthians 3: 1-6

The prophet Hosea described God's love with unparal leled feeling. "I will betroth you to myself for ever, betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love...and you will come to know the Lord."

Such words Were spoken from the depths of one who had known what it was to be bereft of love. In his own life the prophet had been abandoned by an unfaithful wife. He had known the emptiness in which life has little meaning or purpose. He had also known what it was to be touched and healed by God at this darkest moment. From the powerful emotions generated in this experience, he began to speak of our relationship to God with a new authority.

There is nothing detached about God's love for us as a people or as individuals. Hosea came to realise that the God of Israel gave himself to his people with the tenderness and compassion of a husband.

Our response to God is mirrored in the tragedy and new life that emerged from Hosea's marriage. We can reject Gods love for us with everything from indifference to the rejection which Hosea experienced in his marriage.

Sinful humanity meets rejection with rejection. God's love is different. It speaks to the darkness of our unfaithfulness, creating afresh the love that we ourselves have abandoned. " I am going to lure her and lead her into the wilderness and speak to her heart. Than she will respond to me us she did when she was young."

The joy that is engendered in the heart of the forgiven sinner is highlighted in the gospel.

Jesus, in response to the criticism of the Pharisees that neither he nor his disciples fasted, likened his coming to the arrival of the bridegroom. "Surely the bridegroom's attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them."

The presence of Christ coming amongst us has the power to turn our mourning into joy, our darkness into light. The presence of Christ amongst his disciples was like the joy which the bridegroom creates around himself as he comes to claim his own. Despite the frailty and infidelity of our lives, God does not-abandon us. His forgiveness has the power to rekindle our lost love.

Christ did not rekindle this lost love in his disciples only for it to be lost again. He spoke of our old ways as an old wineskin. His presence amongst us, changing our lives, is a precious new wine.

"Nobody puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine, fresh skins!"

Christ came to restore us to the love of the Father. We cannot hold that love within us unless we constantly reject our old and unfaithful ways, thus becoming the new wineskins that bear his presence.

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