July 2016

July 2016

"You are my people: you are loved"
Hosea 2.1 REB

The first chapter of Hosea appears to be confused and contradictory, but at the end of it comes this very clear affirmation. When you read in this book the story behind the prophecy, you soon come to understand why there should be confusion and contradiction, for it tells of the prophet's unfortunate love affairs. It takes very little imagination to see why Hosea should be deeply disoriented as he tries to grapple with his personal marital problems at the same time as interpreting the Word of God to the nation. Hosea's writings will have been edited in the course of transmission, but the disturbing sense of psychological upset and turmoil remain as the personal testimony of a passionate character.

It is remarkable how, out of a matrix of distorted relationships and a skewed idea of the meaning of love, there comes this strong statement of the biblical theme of God's abiding love for those he called"My People". This is a clarion call for our own troubled generation in which love and lust are so often mischievously intertwined and therefore misunderstand, to the detriment of truly loving relationships and, sadly, the profit of pornographers. 

As we allow the spirit and life of this Saying to drip-feed into us in our contemplative praying, many of us will find strength and consolation for our everyday living. There are times when we all need the reassurance that we are loved and valued by God, especially if we feel in some sense undervalued by our fellow human-beings. But we are also called to reflect these words, in God's name, in intercession: "to put love in where love is not" in the memorable words of Gilbert Shaw. This is not so easy. For we must recall the truth of God's universal love for those who love him not, or who wound his heart of love. It is relatively simple to pray for those who are afflicted: to pray for rascals can be a daunting prospect.

In our contemplative intercession, we should frequently say (in His name), "You, my people" and then focus on the Saying (this one, or any other) that God is speaking to them as well as to us. "You, my people...you are mine...you are loved."