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To: All

From: Hosea 14:2-10 (NAB)
Hosea 14:1-9 (RSVCE and New Vulgate)

Call to Conversion

[1] Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
[2] Take with you words
and return to the LORD;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept that which is good
and we will render
the fruit of our lips.
[3] Assyria shall not save us,
we will not ride upon horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In thee the orphan finds mercy.”

[4] I will heal their faithlessness;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
[5] I will be as the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom as the lily,
he shall strike root as the poplar;
[6] his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
[7] They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow,
they shall flourish as a garden;
they shall blossom as the vine,
their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
[8] O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress,
from me comes your fruit.

A Word to the Wise

[9] Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.


14:1-8. The last oracle follows the pattern of the whole book: the denunciation
of Israel’s infidelity is followed by a blessing from the Lord. This. happened in the
episode, from Hosea’s personal life at the start of the book (1:2-2:1), in the cen-
tral poems (2:2-23), and in the first part of the oracles (4:1-11:11). The novelty of
this oracle lies in the fact that previously salvation and forgiveness were offered
by the Lord spontaneously and generously without Israel’s being asked for any-
thing; whereas here (vv. 1-3) the prophet entreats Israel to be converted so that
God may heal her unfaithfulness (v. 4).

In the oracle, both the prophet (vv. 1-3) and the Lord (vv. 4-8) speak. The words
of the prophet are a call to conversion (v. 1) and a prayer proper to a penitential
liturgy (vv. 2-3) in which the sins of Israel are expressly mentioned—reliance on
foreign pacts rather than on the Lord, and revering man-made idols as if they
were God.

The Lord’s words (vv. 4-8) benevolently offer the people reconciliation and a cure
for their unfaithfulness. They speak of a golden age of love between the Lord and
his people; all sorts of attractive imagery are used: the dew, the fragrance of Le-
banon, the grain (note w) and the vine stand for the good things that the Lord,
and not the Baals, bestows on the people; the Lord is depicted as a cypress,
evergreen; that is, he is stable and enduring. So, the book’s conclusion is clear:
since the Lord loves them so deeply there is nothing that the people can do but
respond: “The love of the Beloved or, to put it better, the Beloved who is love,
loves only love and faithfulness. Do not resist his love. Can we stop loving the
one who is Love in person? Can, the one who is Love by his very nature be un-
loved?” (St Bernard, “In Cantica Canticorum”, 83, 5).

14:9. The last verses of the book are a piece of wisdom writing. They are some-
what reminiscent of Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 107:43 and Proverbs 4:7. They
invite us to read the book by applying its message to our own circumstances.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

3 posted on 03/15/2012 9:12:58 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment of All

[28] One of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and
seeing that He (Jesus) answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment
is the first of all?” [29] Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord
our God, the Lord is one; [30] and you shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
[31] The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no
other commandment greater than these.” [32] And the scribe said to Him, “You
are right, Teacher; You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other than
He; [33] and to love with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all
the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole
burnt offerings and sacrifices.” [34] And when Jesus saw that he answered wise-
ly, He said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that no
one dared to ask Him any question.


28-34. The doctor of the law who asks Jesus this question is obviously an upright
man who is sincerely seeking the truth. He was impressed by Jesus’ earlier reply
(verses 18-27) and he wants to learn more from Him. His question is to the point
and Jesus devotes time to instructing him, though he will soon castigate the
scribes, of whom this man is one (cf. Mark 12:38ff).

Jesus sees in this man not just a scribe but a person who is looking for the truth.
And His teaching finds its way into the man’s heart. The scribe repeats what Je-
sus says, savoring it, and our Lord offers him an affectionate word which encou-
rages his definitive conversion: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” This
encounter reminds us of His meeting with Nicodemus (cf. John 3:1ff). On the doc-
trinal content of these two commandments cf. note on Matthew 22:34-40.

[Note on Matthew 22:34-40 states:

In reply to the question, our Lord points out that the whole law can be condensed
into two commandments: the first and more important consists in unconditional
love of God; the second is a consequence and result of the first, because when
man is loved, St. Thomas says, God is loved, for man is the image of God (cf.
“Commentary on St. Matthew”, 22:4).

A person who genuinely loves God also loves his fellows because he realizes
that they are his brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, redeemed by
the same blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: “This commandment we have from Him,
that he who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). However, if we
love man for man’s sake without reference to God, this love will become an obsta-
cle in the way of keeping the first commandment, and then it is no longer genuine
love of our neighbor. But love of our neighbor for God’s sake is clear proof that we
love God: “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 John

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”: here our Lord establishes as the guide-
line for our love of neighbor the love each of us has for himself; both love of others
and love of self are based on love of God. Hence, in some cases it can happen
that God requires us to put our neighbor’s need before our own; in others, not: it
depends on what value, in light of God’s love, needs to be put on the spiritual and
material factors involved.

Obviously spiritual goods take absolute precedence over material ones, even over
life itself. Therefore, spiritual goods, be they our own or our neighbor’s, must be
the first to be safeguarded. If the spiritual good in question is the supreme one
for the salvation of the soul, no one is justified in putting his own soul into certain
danger of being condemned in order to save another, because given human free-
dom we can never be absolutely sure what personal choice another person may
make: this is the situation in the parable (cf. Matthew 25:1-13), where the wise
virgins refuse to give oil to the foolish ones; similarly St. Paul says that he would
wish himself to be rejected if that could save his brothers (cf. Romans 9:3)—an
unreal theoretical situation. However, what is quite clear is that we have to do all
we can to save our brothers, conscious that, if someone helps to bring a sinner
back to the way, he will save himself from eternal death and cover a multitude of
his own sins (James 5:20). From all this we can deduce that self-love of the right
kind, based on God’s love for man, necessarily involves forgetting oneself in order
to love God and our neighbor for God.]

30. This commandment of the Old Law, ratified by Jesus, shows, above all, God’s
great desire to engage in intimate conversation with man: “would it not have suf-
ficed to publish a permission giving us leave to love Him? [...]. He makes a stron-
ger declaration of His passionate love for us, and commands us to love Him with
all our power, lest the consideration of His majesty and our misery, which make
so great a distance and inequality between us, or some other pretext, divert us
from His love. In this He well shows that He did not leave in us for nothing the na-
tural inclination to love Him, for to the end that it may not be idle, He urges us by
His general commandment to employ it, and that this commandment may be ef-
fected, there is no living man He has not furnished him abundantly with all means
requisite thereto” (St. Francis de Sales, “Treatise on the Love of God”, Book 2,
Chapter 8).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 03/15/2012 9:13:46 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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