Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #109: Whether We Know God Is With Us, God Loves and Helps Us

How wonderful to wake up in the morning and know that you can sleep in as late as you would like on a Monday. It is a cloudy Monday morning. The view out my window stuns, as always, with its views of our valley even with the clouds above the mountains and the fog, not at all typical of our mornings in sunny San Ignatio, has quietly creeped into our valley, settling into every low cranny without overwhelming the views of the mission, Mexican-style single-floor houses, and mini-orchards of green trees, along with the three birches across the street below our driveway. A leisurely Monday morning meditation awaits, a rare pleasure.

So, I have return to Hosea, where I am still finding lessons for today's world. Amazing how the experiences of a civilization from centuries ago relate to the experiences of people today and likely to people in the future as well. Although it is a long passage, I am going to reprint here the verses in Hosea 11 that so strongly indicate the depth of God's love for Israel and by extension for us:
1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
   and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
   the more they went away from me.[a]
They sacrificed to the Baals
   and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
   taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
   it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
   with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
   a little child to the cheek,
   and I bent down to feed them.
 5 “Will they not return to Egypt
   and will not Assyria rule over them
   because they refuse to repent?
6 A sword will flash in their cities;
   it will devour their false prophets
   and put an end to their plans.
7 My people are determined to turn from me.
   Even though they call me God Most High,
   I will by no means exalt them.
 8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim?
   How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
   How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
   all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
   nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
For I am God, and not a man—
   the Holy One among you.
   I will not come against their cities.
10 They will follow the LORD;
   he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
   his children will come trembling from the west.
11 They will come from Egypt,
   trembling like sparrows,
   from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
I will settle them in their homes,”
   declares the LORD.
Reading: Hosea 11: 1-11

Meditation: I have seen verse 11:3 in a number of translations, which vary considerably. I suppose one might not pay much attention to individual words within one verse unless that verse were to have special meaning for oneself, as this verse has for me. After coming to faith, I found this verse and realized just how much it applied to my life. My sister, Danielle, confirmed it further when she told me about her childhood prayer, asking God to take care of us since our parents were unable to do that.

Another reading that I came across somewhat later reaffirms this verse in Hosea as well. Some of you may be quite familiar with it: The Hound of Heaven. Francis Thompson, like many of us, evaded God for many years, but, as with Israel, me, and so many others, God did not give up on him.

One of the things I notice in my daily life is that even though I know God is with me, there are times that I become too busy to notice. Yet, one is more important than the relationship with God. Of course, my family is important to me. So are my colleagues and my neighbors. What I sometimes forget is that I can love them and God simultaneously; in fact, loving them is a form of loving God. At the same time, forgetting that God is part of the equation is something that is too easy and something that should never happen. When it does, I regret the lost moments with God when, like Ephraim, I do not realize that it is God who is teaching me to walk.

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to praise God for all the ways in which He has been with me all my life. I will ask forgiveness for all the years that I ignored God and credited any good fortune to Lady Luck. I will also ask God to increase my awareness of His presence in my daily life and my gratitude for all that he has done for me. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

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