COURAGE IN LIFE
As we go through life we are not all alone. We have the help, the guidance, and the protection of a loving Father.
Hosea is the prophet of God's love. Yesterday, Hosea's reading was touching and tender. He presented God as a Father who scoops His child, Israel, into His arms and presses Him against His cheek. Today, fully aware of Israel's disobedience, he cries out, "Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God" (Hos 14:2). Hosea's words easily make us think of the parable in which Jesus shows the young prodigal son returning to his Father. That also is a touching and tender scene and an image of how completely God loves us despite our failures. God's love goes on and on. This image hits home for most people.
The knowledge that God is our Father should give us courage in life, especially when times are difficult. Jesus in the Gospel warned His disciples that they would be like "sheep among wolves" (Mt 10:16), and that they would be hated because of Him. The particular problems faced by the disciples may not be identical with ours, but there are parallels nonetheless. There is no point in trying to cite examples, since difficulties and trials are different for each one of us, and we know our own problems well enough.
The point is that as we go through life we are not all alone. We have the help, the guidance, and the protection of a loving Father. Jesus told us in the Gospels, "Do not be afraid, I am with you always" (cf. Mt 28:20). How can we go to Him? A good way to start is by prayer. Simply talk to our Lord. Today in Psalm 51, we hear, "O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise." The Liturgy of the Hours is a public form of prayer of the church with prescribed psalms, prayers, readings for various times of the day and night. Each recitation of prayer begins with these words of Psalm 51. Psalm 51 is a song of repentance; it is also a song of joy. When we pray this psalm, we express sorrow for sin, perhaps even for sins like those which Hosea preached: infidelity and idolatry. We come asking God for mercy, for a new heart, and for renewal in spirit. We can pray trusting in the greatness of God's compassion. We have confidence that God will hear and answer us. As if anticipating the touch of God, and already beginning to experience it, we know what the next step will be. We cannot remain silent. We just have to tell others about God, and share His love. We have to proclaim praise to God always.
We also know that God is especially present to us through His Son in the Eucharist. That is the most important help of all. But when we pray in the Lord's Prayer for our daily bread, we should understand that this daily bread includes not only the Eucharist and our natural food, but also everything we need to continue as faithful and loving children of God. Even when we sin, God calls us to return to His loving embrace. With God as our Father, we can and should lead lives of praise to Him, with joy in our lives and ministry, and peace always within our hearts and with our neighbors!
Let us continue our faith journey together.