Mar 16, 2023
(Hos.14:2-10; Ps.81:6-11,14,17; Mk.12:28-34)
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!”
“There is no other than He,” and so what should we do but “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, with all [our] mind, and with all [our] strength”? What promise the Lord makes to us if only we would return to Him and love Him: “If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways, I would feed them with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them.” Indeed, then we would be “not far from the reign of God,” even here on earth.
Brothers and sisters, we “have collapsed through [our] guilt.” We have had “strange god[s]” among us and said, “‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands.” Why should we continue so blind? Why should we continue stumbling as sinners – why do we find the straight paths of the Lord so difficult to walk? He will “forgive all iniquity” and strengthen us in justice; if we turn to Him, He will “heal [our] defection” and “love [us] freely.” “In distress you called, and I rescued you,” He says in the words of our psalmist, and His words are true. Turning away His wrath, He shall become “like the dew for Israel.” And with His living water to nourish us, we “shall blossom like the lily… blossom like the olive tree.” We “shall dwell in His shade and raise grain,” our “fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.” We must but love God and our neighbor, and we shall “bear fruit.”
“Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them.” There is no God in all the world but the Lord, and it is He in whom “the orphan finds compassion.” Why should you continue in your vain pursuits when love awaits your turning to Him? What refuge can you find in your false gods? In them and in your pride you indeed will find yourself orphaned, cut off from the love that only the Father holds. But He loves the orphan, brother, and so He calls to your soul to return to Him with all your heart. In this is true wisdom; in Him you will find strength.
There is no further question when the love of God is known. When His presence is revealed we fall silent, for nothing can be said in the face of Truth. Listen, brothers and sisters; but listen – and then do.
O LORD, you are rejected, you are killed,
that your inheritance you might share with us.
YHWH, though we reject your Beloved Son, dragging Him out of the vineyard to kill Him, yet His blood becomes salvation for us, release from slavery to sin. As Joseph who was sold to the Ishmaelites became ruler in the land of Egypt, so has the One who has died on a cross become the cornerstone of your kingdom. And all who come to Him this day, under Him become a holy nation.
There is a great famine upon this land, O LORD, and we would quickly die for lack of nourishment if to us you did not send your only Son to provide for all our needs. Let us show our gratefulness to you for such rich blessing by giving due honor to the One you have sent and producing abundant fruit in His Name.
O LORD, let all jealous souls be gathered into your harvest, redeemed from the blood upon their hands by our Savior’s sacrifice. Such marvels you would perform for us at no cost but the abandonment of our greed and envy.