Day 174: the prophet hosea
2 Kings 5:1-19 Naaman the leper arrived at Elisha’s house and expected Elisha to cure him by way of magical gesture or incantation. Instead, his healing by Elisha’s instructions brought about a conversion experience that caused him to believe in the one true God. Christ alluded to this when he said, “There were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian” (Lk 4:27); he used this story as an example of a prophet not being welcome in his own country: the prophet performed mightier works among the foreigners than among his own people because their faith was stronger. This story bears resemblance to that of the ten lepers cured by Christ, of which only one returned to thank him (cf. Lk 17:12-19)
Ch 5:20-27 Gehazi’s act of greed earned him the affliction from which Naaman formerly suffered. (CCC 2536)
The Book of Hosea
Author and Date:
Hosea begins the books of the “Minor Prophets”-so called because of their books’ length, not because they are any less important than the “Major Prophets”-probably because it is the longest of the twelve.
It is believed to contain the authentic preaching of the prophet, possibly written down by his followers and later re-edited.
Hosea ministered in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, then under Assyrian rule, probably around 750-725 BC.
References to Judah and the final warnings (cf. 14:9) were likely later additions.
Hosea was written in the Hebrew dialect spoken in the Northern Kingdom of his day.
His primary audience was the people of the northern tribes in the period before the Assyrian conquest of Samaria in 722 BC.
Hosea’s primary theme is the steadfast love and fidelity of God despite the sins of his people.
Using Hosea’s own marriage to the unfaithful Gomer as a symbol, the prophet illustrated how Israel’s widespread attraction to the worship of idols and religious syncretism was like adultery and how God remained the faithful husband, constantly awaiting the return of his wayward spouse and receiving her with love when she came home.
Hosea specifically denounced the cult of Baal, the Canaanite god of nature and fertility, which had integrated itself into the lives of the Israelites when they first entered the Promised Land and learned agricultural methods from their pagan neighbors.
Intermarriage between Israelites and pagans also led to the syncretistic practices.
Israel also had a habit of forgetting God when times were good and turning to him only in times of need.
Because God’s covenant with Israel was like the bond of marriage, God was jealous and angered by Israel’s infidelity and sought punishment-not as an end in itself but as a means to effect conversion in his unfaithful spouse (cf. 2:14-23).
God was also like a father in this regard, always forgiving and willing to recommit to the covenant when Israel returned.
The conversion of which Hosea spoke is a deep turning toward God, a complete change of heart, which is a response to God’s constant offer of forgiveness-a foreshadowing of Christ dying on the Cross for us “while we were yet sinners” (cf. Rom 5:8).
When Hosea spoke of steadfast love, he used the term hesed, which conveys the sense of a mutual fidelity that is rooted in love.
Hesed is also sometimes translated as “mercy,” as in the verse from Hosea cited by Christ in the Gospels: “I desire mercy (hesed), and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13; cf. Hos 6:6; Mt 12:7).
This does not mean that ritual worship and acts of atonement are not of value but that the key to true conversion occurs in the heart rather than in external acts alone.
Hosea 1-14 Hosea was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel around the 8th Century BC. The first three chapters serve as an explanatory introduction to the rest of the book. Hosea explains that marriage (particularly his own marriage) is a symbol of God’s covenant with Israel, which sheds light on and prepares the way for an understanding of Christian marriage as a permanent covenant between one man and one woman. More generally, Hosea and his prophecies reflect God’s view of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the covenant. (CCC 1610-1612, 1644)
Ch 1:2 The prostitute Gomer is a symbol of the infidelity of Israel to the covenant with God. Her infidelity to Hosea, her spouse, affects the children of their marriage, whom God gives names expressive of her sins of adultery. Hosea, on the other hand, symbolizes God’s unfailing fidelity to Israel. (CCC 762)
Ch 1:10-11 Despite God’s anger at Israel’s infidelity, he responded with mercy and love, willing to restore his people to unity and communion with him. (CCC 214)
Ch 2:1-23 This poem explains and summarizes the message of Hosea. Israel had sinned through idolatry. Although God punished Israel on account of their sins, he loved his people unconditionally and lavished his merciful love upon them; moreover, God is eternally disposed to forgive his people as long as they repent. (CCC 218, 2380)
Ch 2:16: Baal, the name of a specific pagan god, could also mean “husband” or “lord.” God demanded that he be called by a name that meant “husband” exclusively because he is the one true God, whose faithfulness to his people endures forever. He also condemned the accumulation of various pagan forms of worship, demanding that his people remain faithful to the laws and Commandments of his covenant.
Ch 2:21-23 In the Old Covenant, God showered his people with blessings, contingent on their fidelity. In the New Covenant established by Christ, we become, through Baptism, adopted sons and daughters of God. (CCC 2787-2793)
Ch 3:1-5 St. John Paul II described how the conjugal love between a man and a woman in marriage is meant to reflect Christ’s love for his Church. Since spousal love involves a permanent and ongoing total gift of self, infidelity to God in the form of idolatry is compared to adultery. Nevertheless, God remains faithful and eternally eager to forgive and restore a loving union with his people. God’s never-ending love for the Chosen People of his covenant sheds much light on the sacred bond between spouses in marriage (Cf. Eph 5:21-33).
Ch 3:2 I bought her: The handing over of money and goods symbolizes Hosea’s love and generosity toward Gomer, in effect buying her back-redeeming her-from her prostitution. Prostitution is a grave sin that violates the personal dignity and contradicts the sacred purpose of human sexuality. An even graver sin and attack on human dignity is the practice of forcing men and women into prostitution through threats or enslavement. (CCC 2355)
Psalm 101 Those in authority, like the kings themselves, must concern themselves chiefly with the common good of those entrusted to their care. In order to promote justice effectively in society, leaders themselves must lead virtuous lives; two of the virtues that leaders must exhibit are wisdom and justice. Those in authority must govern and make decisions in light of natural law and in a way that promotes justice for the entire population. The moral qualities of civil leaders must include the courage and fortitude not to compromise on fundamental issues of natural law.
It is the responsibility of legitimate authority to legislate just laws and enforce justice on those in violation of the law. Certainly no one who is not vested with authority can impose punishment on another who has broken the law. Where the citizen ought to exercise vigilance against sin and injustice is within himself or herself, said St. John Paul II, “by deciding to uproot from their own hearts and conduct, every morning, the evil sown by corruption and violence, by perversion and wickedness, as well as by every form of selfishness and injustice” (St. John Paul II, General Audience, April 30, 2003). (CCC 1931)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Hosea was one of the 12 MINOR PROPHETS
He is not a MINOR PROPHET because he was UNIMPORTANT
The MINOR PROPHETS are VERY IMPORTANT
It’s just that their writings are SHORTER than the MAJOR PROPHETS like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah
We have Elisha and Naaman the Syrian general
Naaman is the general of the King of Syria’s army
He is a man of valor
He has everything going for in
He is a LEPER
This basically means he is a dead man
This is something that is worth reflecting on and pausing over
It is possible that a person can have EVERY possible BLESSING in life
All of our lives are an hourglass where the grains of sand are continuing to run out
Naaman had it staring him in the face every time he looked in the mirror because he was a leper
He had all the power he could dream of
He had all the reputation and honor he could ever want
He knew his days were numbered because he knew he couldn’t escape the fact that he was a leper
We might be at the height of our lives right now or we could be in the low point of our lives
Without God, THAT MEANS VERY LITTLE
Without God, our SUCCESS means VERY LITTLE
Without God, our TRAGEDY means VERY LITTLE
Naaman the Syrian is hopeless because leprosy was incurable
What changed the course of Naaman’s life?
A young Jewish girl living in his life as a slave
This young girl was taken from her home aka kidnapped by the Syrians and now she is working in the household of the general of the Syrian army, Naaman
She is the one who comes to Naaman’s wife who tells her about a man in Israel named Elisha who could heal her master
Here is a girl who had EVERYTHING taken away from her by Naaman and the Syrians
It’s likely that Naaman was the one who KIDNAPPED this girl when they raided the Jews
Why in the world would she want her master to be healed?
It could be because he was an honorable man who happened to be a kidnapper as well
She knows the heart of her God and our God
She wants to extend His healing EVEN TO THOSE WHO ARE HER ENEMIES
She wants to extend His healing EVEN TO THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY HER FAMILY
She wants to extend His healing EVEN TO THOSE WHO WOULD BRING HER TO A FOREIGN PLACE
As Naaman comes to the King of Israel, who has no idea how to help his Leprosy, Elisha tells Naaman to bathe himself in the Jordan seven times
Naaman’s servant tells him, “Listen, if he told you to do something really difficult, you would do it. But this is really easy.”
This is possibly a direct ALLUSION to BAPTISM
Baptism makes us adopted SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD
Baptism that enables us to cry out ABBA FATHER when He gives us His Holy Spirit
It’s such a simple thing
Some people say, “Can it really make that big of a difference?”
Just getting water poured over you and the priest saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”
THE ANSWER IS YES!!
The price to WIN the Grace of the Sacrament of Baptism was paid by JESUS AND HIS SACRIFICE
For us, it is remarkably easy and it transforms our lives just like bathing seven times in the Jordan transformed Naaman’s life
All of Naaman’s offerings were refused so he promised to worship only the God of Israel from now on
He took two mules-worth of this land when he went back to his land so that when he stood on it he is standing on HOLY GROUND
There is a church in Rome that is very similar
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
The Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem
Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and they filled her ships with earth from the Holy Land
When they got back to Rome, rather than just dumping out the earth, she brought it all into the city and had a church built on that earth from Jerusalem
So this is similar to what Naaman did
Every time Naaman stood on that earth, he would be standing on Holy Ground worshipping the True and Living God of Elisha, the God of Israel
Hosea is a tragic figure but a figure of God
He is tragic because many prophets are called to witness to the Lord BY THEIR WORDS
Some prophets are called to witness to the Lord BY THEIR ACTIONS
Hosea is called to witness to God by his ACTIONS and his WORDS
What does God call Hosea to do?
He calls on Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, knowing she is going to be UNFAITHFUL
That witness of Hosea’s life is that Hosea must be like GOD because Gomer is going to be like the PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
God gives the people of Israel EVERYTHING they could possibly want and they are going to chase after OTHER LOVERS
They are going to give their hearts to OTHERS
It’s just REMARKABLE
Even the names of their second and third children are NOT PITIED and NOT MY PEOPLE
The fruit of their marriage will keep turning away
It’s definitely worth going back and reading Hosea Chs 1-3 so you can really understand the GRAVITY of what is being proclaimed by Hosea
Hosea is preaching to the Northern Kingdom
They KEEP RUNNING AWAY FROM THE LORD
Hosea 2:3 “I will strip her naked and I will make her as the day she was born and make her like a wilderness and slay her with thirst.”
Because THEN SHE WILL COME BACK
The idea is that he will keep on taking things away so that they realize that they BELONG TO GOD
Hosea 2:5 “...For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’”
In Hosea 2:8 God later on says, “No, she doesn’t realize. It was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold which they used for Baal.”
The people of Israel (NORTHERN KINGDOM) thought they were things to be used for FALSE GODS
This is like our own idolatry in our OWN HEARTS
Hosea 2:6 “Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns; and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them.”
This is what God does SO OFTEN
God often BLOCKS THE WAY when we are TRYING TO SIN
When we make up our mind to wander from the Lord and GOD BLOCKS THE WAY WITH THORNS AND BUILDS A WALL AGAINST US
God does not want us to WALK OUT
God does not want us to RUN AWAY FROM HIM
God can sometimes put OBSTACLES IN OUR WAY
Hosea 2:7 “...Then she shall say, I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better with me then than now.”
Hosea 2:14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”
We talked about this in the Book of Joshua when the People of Israel came into the Promised Land when they had the Battle of Ai (Go read Day 82 Notes for a refresher 😁)
Achon had stolen some spoils of war
The Valley of Achor was a place of devastation and defeat
Hosea 2:15 “And there I will give her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”
So the place of SHAME, God will make into a PLACE OF VICTORY
God will make a place where you will KNOW how DEEPLY AND PROFOUNDLY YOU ARE LOVED
That is the word today
YOU ARE LOVED
Even when we run away from Him, He continues to pursue after us
Oftentimes, he leads us into the WILDERNESS so that He can SPEAK TO US CLEARLY
If you find yourself in a desert, in a wilderness, in a place of REAL LOSS, oftentimes that can be God saying, “I’m just trying to get your attention, because you have given your HEART, you have given your LIFE, you have given YOURSELF to something or someone OTHER THAN ME, the SOURCE OF YOUR LIFE, the SOURCE OF YOURSELF, the SOURCE OF JOY AND OF LOVE. So come back. Come back.”
YOU ARE LOVED BY A GOD WHO LOVES YOU TO THE POINT WHERE HE IS NOT GOING TO ABANDON YOU
HE WILL FIGHT HARD FOR YOU
HE MIGHT EVEN FIGHT AGAINST YOU FOR YOU
We often choose stuff that is NOT GOOD FOR US
And then we have to be FOUGHT
AND FOUGHT AGAINST
Because above all things, GOD LOVES YOU
SO TURN BACK TO HIM NOW
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Without God’s Grace, we are stuck and dead in the water
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we love you. We receive your love from you because you show yourself to be faithful when we are faithless. You show that you want us even when we are wanton. You show us, Oh God, that your love is unstoppable. Your love is unchangeable. It is not our beauty that draws you to us. It is your love that moves you to us. And so please continue to draw near. Continue to take us back when we stray. And continue to bar our way when we want to walk or run away. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
2 Kgs. 5:
5:14 Naaman’s ritual cleansing in the Jordan is prefigurative of the Sacrament of Baptism, which “saves” (1 Pt. 3:21) us, “not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pt. 3:21). Naaman’s flesh becoming like “the flesh of a little child” indicates that it is through baptism that we are “born again” (Jn. 3:4-5). Leprosy represents sin, but Jesus Christ has “saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit” (Ti. 3:5), washing our spiritual leprosy away in the holy water of this sacrament, being “buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Rm. 6:4).
My Study Color Code
■ Suffering, Martyrdom ■ Places ■ The Church, Sacraments, Divinity ■ Horticultural Imagery ■ People ■ Messianic Kingship ■ Sin, Death, Decay