Commentators say the Book of Hosea, the 8th century Jewish prophet we’re reading at Mass these days, is one of the most difficult books of the bible to understand; its language and its references are often obscure. But one part of Hosea’s story you can recognize in any television soap opera or romantic novel today: It’s a story of marital infidelity, a broken marriage.
Hosea had trouble with his wife, whose name is Gomer. He was very much in love with her; they married and had some children. But Gomer’s not satisfied with Hosea and her family and she leaves them. She wants something else– romance, freedom, new things to see and to do, a new life.
So Hosea is heartbroken and crushed when she leaves him. He doesn’t understand why it’s happened, he’s bewildered and angry and feeling rejected.
Yet he still loves her and tries to win her back. He wants to renew the love they had for each other. Eventually, Gomer comes back, but we’re not really sure if she will stay. What we do know is that Hosea wants to have her back and have their love renewed.
Hosea’s story is an example of God’s relationship to humanity. God loves the world and its people. Yet, we can be unfaithful. But God’s relationship is like the marital relationship, or as we also see in the Book of Hosea, the relationship of a father or mother to their children. God always wants us back.
You can hear the yearning of Hosea for his wife and the love of God for his people in Monday’s reading:
Thus says the LORD:
I will allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart.
She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,
when she came up from the land of Egypt.
On that day, says the LORD,
She shall call me “My husband,”
and never again “My baal.”
I will espouse you to me forever:
I will espouse you in right and in justice,
in love and in mercy;
I will espouse you in fidelity,
and you shall know the LORD.
(Hosea 2:6, 17-18,21-22)