By: John Shelton, Campus Minister
"I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them."
From HOS 14:1-10
As I lectored at Friday’s Mass at Marian University, in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel, the words from the prophet Hosea jumped off the pages and went straight to my heart:
I have spent a lot of time on the road this March as the head men's golf coach at Marian University, traveling from Texas to Florida to Nevada, all in the span of three weeks. The team competed well. While I do not feel that I have defected from God, I am tired. I have missed my wife Alice, my 85 year old mother (who just moved into our home two months ago), my St. Elizabeth Seton church family, and my work family in the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine. While I have prayed daily, I have been able to attend mass only once before today. I felt “malnourished,” hungering for the Lord at his table. My dear wife Alice has borne the brunt of care for my mother. This was made especially difficult after one of mom’s physician teams diagnosed her with a “severe status” in her battle with Alzheimer’s- this week. I love these two women deeply and especially appreciate Alice’s sacrificial gift of care for my mother. Their time together, with only my prayerful, non-present support, has weighed heavily on my heart and mind.
I needed to hear God’s words—“I will love them (me) freely”. This love was there, in spite of Israel’s constant wandering and apostasy. And, he is always ready for our (my) return to him. This underscores that God’s love was (and is) unmerited, without condition, constant, overflowing, just like the fountain that overflows 24/7 during the summer months in the centers of our campus. And even more encouraging to me is the fact that this gospel message in located smack dab in the middle of the Old Testament. God’s love is beyond time, yet eternal in our temporal world. For me, the New Testament equivalent verse is in Hebrews 13:8. In the midst of the author’s exhortation to “let mutual love continue”, he states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”. I will meditate on this truth as the days before Holy Week wind down—where His love for us is most visible.
I look forward to going home tonight and listening to my mother play her piano with all the vim and vigor of an 18 year old. Our God is Good, always.