Scripture: 1st Reading: Hosea14,1-9; Resp. Psalm: Ps81,6-11,14,17; Gosp. Accl.: Mt4,17; Gospel: Mt12,28-34
It is foolhardy to trust in the works of our hands. It is unprofitable to trust in human beings. It is foolish to put oneself under the protection of any human person. It is idolatry to repose confidence in things made and forget the Maker of the things we repose trust in.
The word of God today in the first reading calls these faithlessness, idolatry and self deception. They bring about God's anger upon us. They substitute His glory and dominion over us with that of fading and ephemeral realities.
The people of God were in this situation at a certain point in their chequered history. Prophet Hosea was called upon to point their foolishness to them and show them the way of understanding. Yahweh today promised not to punish but to heal their faithlessness and in place of their infidelities, love them freely.
Yahweh today promised to restore them to blossom. He promised that their beauty shall be like the olive and their fragrance like Lebanon. They shall flourish like a garden and blossom like the vine. The Lord would give life to His people. They shall be protected under the shadow of His shelter.
This will happen because the people returned to Yahweh, their first love. Our Lord today stressed this same teaching in the gospel. In response to the scribe who asked Him for the greatest commandment, our Lord did not hesitate to state that they are two: love of God with all our hearts, minds and souls, and love of the neighbour as ourselves.
The commandment to love is the greatest. This commandment is more than holocausts and sacrifices. God must be first in all that we do. He must have the place of primal importance in our lives.
The season of Lent is a time to reorder our priorities. Chances are that we have in the past months given God's place in our lives to a human person; chances are that we have been distracted by the beauty around us that we have forgotten that these are ephemeral and time bound: they do not last forever. Lent therefore calls us back to God, our first love. Let us return to Him today.
Let us today heed the summons of our Maker: return... to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to Him, 'Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the fruit of our lips.' " May the Lord be merciful unto us. May the Lord take us back.
Let us pray: "Pour your grace into our hearts, we pray, O Lord, that we may be constantly drawn away from unruly desires and obey by your own gift the heavenly teaching you give us." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.