Father David's Reflection for Third Friday of Lent
The Responsorial Psalm is an invitation to wisdom: "I am the Lord your God: hear my voice" (Psalm 81).
Wisdom is defined as "taste for spiritual things" (cf. the Latin sapientia, sapor, and the English "savor"). All three readings are encouraging us to seek our well-being through relationship with God: hearing his voice as disciples and loving what we hear. This is wisdom.
In Hosea 14: 2-10 God reveals that his response to our guilt is love. God draws us to himself through love: "Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt." God's promise is, "I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely."
The texts keep emphasizing that the one speaking is "the LORD your God." The reason for believing in God's love and mercy is that God is unlike any other. His love is unique. It is what defines God as God.
When God showed Moses his "glory," Scripture says, "the LORD passed be- fore him, and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Exodus 33:12 to 34:6).
Steadfast love (which appears 173 times in the Bible) and faithfulness - the Hebrew hesed and emet, which we find translated as "grace and truth" or "kindness and fidelity" - are the traits most characteristic of God. The Jerome Biblical Commentary calls them "a virtual definition of God" (on John 1:14). If we understand God as "enduring love," we will desire to enter into relation- ship with him. We will have a "taste" for God and for all that unites us to him. This is wisdom. It is the driving force of discipleship. If we know what "the Lord our God" is like, we will want to "hear his voice." Hosea ends, "Let those who are wise understand these things."
Mark 12: 28-34 shows us Jesus praising a scribe for understanding that the beginning and end of our response to God is love. This is the "great commandment." An authentic morality bases everything we do on response to God's love for us. For the wise, the guiding principle behind every moral decision should be, "Does this show love for God and for other people?"
Vatican II teaches that all "the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love (The Church no. 40). We are not there yet. That is why we have to embrace a program of discipleship so that we can learn to love God with all our hearts and live life to the full. To do this is wisdom.
Initiative: Be a disciple. Decide to be wise. Make a plan for growing to "perfect love." (Suggestion: try the plan in Reaching Jesus: Five Steps to a Fuller Life).