God's Pity Is Stirred
Well, of course he’s God and not man—isn’t that obvious? Still, our vision of God can often be colored by our experience of human relationships. We are parents or children; we are friends or siblings. We have been disappointed or angered or pleased by all of them. We can think God will react to situations the same way any of us would. But God likes to surprise us.
When Hosea prophesied in Israel around 750 BC, many of God’s people were comfortable and prosperous—so much so that they had started drifting toward the idols that their neighbors and trading partners believed in. Humanly speaking, the people’s infidelity could have given God reason to abandon them or revoke their status as his chosen people. Like a mathematical equation or a contractual arrangement, their betrayal could have provoked a harsh response. But God is not man. He offers relationship and redemption, not revenge and recrimination.
This is how God relates to you, too. His heart is filled with love for you; he wants nothing more than to deepen your friendship with him. So why would he ever reject you? As Pope Francis once said, “Jesus never strikes. He cleanses with tenderness, mercy, love.”
Do we need to be cleansed? Of course. But how will Jesus go about it? Perhaps our experience of having been hurt or rejected in the past can lead us to expect Jesus to condemn us as well. But he won’t. He came to save, not to condemn.
As you reflect on this passage, try something different today. Think of the worst thing you’ve ever done. Now, imagine that Jesus is sitting with you, looking into your eyes. Can you see the mercy and gentleness there? What if he raised your face to his cheek or kissed you on the forehead as you might do to a child? Can you feel the forgiveness and love? Even if you didn’t feel especially repentant, it wouldn’t take long for your heart to melt in the face of such tenderness.
Let Jesus disarm you with his compassion today. Let him cleanse you with his tenderness.
“Lord Jesus, I gaze into your eyes. Your love can’t be explained in human terms. Thank you, Lord, for embracing me!”
Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)