Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hosea and Go and Sin no More

Several years ago, my adorable wife and I had a heated argument. Things were said that hurt terribly. I sat in the living room, thinking. She was in the kitchen, and I looked at her. The thought that occurred to me—which I will never forget—was: “I love you because I choose to love you, and I choose to never stop loving you. It is not because of what you do or what you do not do; I just choose to love you always.”

 Although I have never told her that, what I did tell her was, “I love you, and I refuse to fight with the one I love; if you want to fight, you will have to fight with yourself.” I try to live by that. The thought also occurred to me that that is how God feels about us: He loves us because He chooses to love us, and He chooses to not stop loving us. Regardless, we are free to remove ourselves from His love, rejecting Him. Yes, Holy Scripture tells us, “Jacob I have loved; Esau I have hated.” Many things are written in Scripture in a way that our limited understanding can grasp. The same goes for Psalm 5:5: The Lord hates the wicked.

This leads me to today’s Gospel reading, regarding the woman accused of adultery being brought to Jesus. It causes my mind to go back to the Old Testament, to the minor prophet Hosea. I am not going to go into the literal interpretation of the Book; I want to talk about the spiritual meaning. God told Hosea, “Go, get for yourself a woman of prostitution.” “Hosea” means “strength of God.” The strength of God is Jesus Christ. The woman of prostitution is us, humanity, those who will become the Bride of Christ. When we sin, we essentially commit adultery against God.

 With the fall of mankind by virtue to Adam’s sin, we no longer was God’s wife, and He no longer was our Husband. When we commit sin today, we act shamefully, saying by our actions, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.” Because God chooses to love us, the Church, He ensures that, if we run after our lovers, we will not overtake them, if we seek them we will not find them. Then we will say, “I will go back to my first husband, for I was better off then than now.” We forget many times that it is God who gives us the grain, the wine, and the oil, the silver and the gold. God takes them back in order that we return to Him. God the Father tells the Son, “Go, love a woman (the Church) who is loved by her Spouse but commits adultery.” So Jesus acquired her by His Passion, death, and resurrection. When I was a Lutheran, the assistant pastor told me that God was a gentleman, allowing us to do our will. My remark was, “I don’t want God to be a gentleman; I want him to be a Marine general, taking charge, and saving me. Many people view Jesus as a passive Shepherd, a passive Savior, just pleading with us to trust in Him. Scripture paints another picture, a picture of a Good Shepherd, an aggressive Savior, who knows His sheep and knows how to keep them. The Father works and the Son is working, working to save us.

Many people hate predestination. We must remember that the Catholic Church says that to not believe in predestination is heresy and to not believe in free will is heresy. The Catholic Church plainly teaches that the Blessed Virgin was predestined. Nevertheless, her will was free and she used it in obedience. Jesus told the twelve, “You did not choose Me; I chose you.” What do we have that we did not receive? Grace comes before faith, and grace came without us asking for it or earning it. If we are saved by virtue of our using our free will, how can we thank God for saving us? He would only be giving us what we earned. St. Paul did not ask to be saved. He was trying to destroy the Church. Nevertheless, when Christ chose him, gave him grace and faith, he cooperated by utilizing his free will. When we bring our babies to the Church to be baptized, the babies do not ask to be saved, do not ask for grace or faith. Although it is our will to have them baptized, that is only our will cooperating with the gifts of grace and faith which the Holy Spirit first put in us. “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. God works hard to save us, but we can reject His grace and the faith he gives us as a result of that grace by loving the things of the world more than Christ. Too often we attempt to become our own judge, making the decision whether we have done, or are doing enough, to remain in that grace.

We too often become the judge of which Church doctrines are correct. Because we sincerely believe something or something seems rational, we oftentimes believe that that is truth. Truth is in the Catholic Church. Our Savior commands the apostles to teach us to obey His commandments. That is because Truth is in the Church, not us as individuals. This is one of the methods He utilizes to aggressively save us, to keep us. We have free will to reject the teachings of the Church, rejecting Christ, the Head. Go, and sin no more.

This theological reflection courtesy of the parishioners of St Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida: stpaulcatholic.net