March 29, 2019
by Barbara Dilly
Creighton University's Department of Sociology and Anthropology
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Third Week of Lent
Lectionary: 241

Hosea 14:2-10
Psalms 81:6C-8A, 8BC-9, 10-11AB, 14 and 17
Mark 12:28-34

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As I was reflecting on the lessons for today, I could not at first make the connection between the Old Testament lessons and the Gospel message.  What does the commandment to love God with all our hearts have to do with the prophet Hosea’s words about how God supports those who trust in Him?  What does it have to do with the Psalmist’s reminder of our liberation? 

Hosea reminds us that it is God who answers our prayers and looks after us.  Hosea reveals God’s message that it is the wise and discerning who know and understand these things.  This message seems to align well with the Psalm for today.  It too is about trust.  The Lord reminds us that He rescues us from our distress.  But what does trust in God to liberate us have to do with our response to love God and our neighbors?

First, I think Hosea reveals a big problem we have with trusting God.  God is very concerned that we don’t listen to the god who rescues us, the God who led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt.  To trust that God, it seems that we first need to come to terms with who is our God?  Psalm 81 calls us to not worship any other God but the Lord who led us forth from bondage.  So that freedom from bondage theme is consistent in both passages.  During my Lenten journey, I am thinking of our God as a God who rescues me from bondage and distress due to sin.  I admit it takes a lot of trust to accept that I can be let off the hook for my sins.

It also requires a lot of trust to listen to our Lord and to walk in His ways.  But now the words of Jesus make more sense than I first thought.  Jesus doesn’t just answer the scribes who want to know what they need to do to walk in the ways of God by identifying the first commandment.  He starts with “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  I think Jesus prefaces his answer with an Old Testament admonition because he recognizes we must first come to terms with who is our God.   As a model for us, the wise scribe affirmed that the Lord is one, besides him there is no other.  The wise scribe also listened carefully and understood the words that Jesus told him in how to walk in the ways of the Lord by loving God and our neighbors. 

Reflecting on these passages today helps me understand that Jesus is calling me to discern carefully where I place my trust, am I really listening to the one God, and am I responding to my faith wisely.  Who or what is my God?  Am I wasting my time with burnt offerings and sacrifices to alien gods when I should be focusing my life on loving God and others?  Am I really listening to God?  Lent is certainly a good time to get our hearing checked.

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