Thursday, December 4, 2008

Daily Bible Reading: Hosea 6:1-6 Sacrifice of the Heart

"Come, let us return to the Lord;
for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;
he has struck down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers,
like the spring rains that water the earth."

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes away early.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
I have killed them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth as the light.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Comments: The theme of Judgment continues in this reading. Hosea’s prophecy in the 7th century BCE was to show how Israel, the Northern Kingdom had strayed into worshipping other gods. The imagery he uses is that of a marriage fraught with infidelity. The resurrection motif catches the eye of Christians but the most important words to the present day are the last ones in this passage.

God desires steadfast love—hesed (Hebrew). It is the kind of love that goes through thick and thin. All too often we find ourselves trying to save ourselves through good works rather than offering to God the humble heart of gratitude. Sacrifice can be mindless. What God desires is a willingness to be present to the Holy at all times, open to the always present Divine love. A difficult task, to be sure, but one worthy of our effort.

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