Return, O Israel!

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“Return, O Israel, to the Lord, you God: you have collapsed through your guilt” (Hosea 14:1). The admonition that Hosea gave to the Israelite community so long ago remains proper to us today. Our collapse as a society and individually is directly related to our guilt. This is a hard truth to deal with, but it is essential to the well being of our soul as a nation, and to that of our own individual souls.

The collapse of cultural integrity in Hosea’s time, is no different than that of our own time. What has become known since the Enlightenment as a human centered “modernity,” or even “post modernity” is the result of a societal turning away from dependence on God alone. Our society has increasingly turned science and technology into a god on the one hand, and absolute individualism on the other. As a result, the old determiners of reality, faith and reason, have been supplanted by a philosophical of relativism that believes that reality, truth, and what is good, is determined solely by the individual. Things like truth and justice are no longer matters of common sense, but solely the creation of the individual mind. Because of this, the concept of the common good, with its roots in scripture and theology, have been eliminated by a cynical adherence to “fashionable” things like political correctness and identity politics.

The center no longer holds. Our common inheritance as children of God, is no longer recognized and the result is cultural chaos. Morality is no longer a universally understood concept, but is now defined solely by the individual ego, or the ego of a particular group. And the consequences of this are evident to those with eyes to see. We have become a house divided, and such a house cannot stand. It is only in the Lord, our God, that we can find our mutual dependence and responsibility. The same Spirit who gave Hosea the words of our verse for today, is speaking to us, here and now. Return to the Lord! Turn away from the causes of your guilt!

“Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them” (verse 9) We are told in Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” It is a fact that the first and greatest cause for the chaos the Israelites lived in at the time of Hosea, and that of our own time, is a universal turning away from the fear of the Lord. Wisdom is no longer available to us when we turn away from God. Without this fear of the righteous justice and mercy of the Lord, we are left to our finite, human devices, with all of their flaws, and all of their ignorances, and all of their prides. But fear of the Lord, rooted in a profound understanding of his perfect goodness, and his unconditional love, makes us prudent, helps us to see his paths more clearly. In this wisdom we are able to walk justly, without stumbling in the blindness of our stubborn prides. In putting our faith in the Lord, we no longer foolishly see ourselves as the center of the universe, but as his children and as equal members of the his Mystical body.

Lord, help us to see our guilts, to admit to them, and to turn back to you for forgiveness and the strength to turn away from them. Though we have collapsed through our guilts, we trust in your mercy and forgiveness. Give us the courage to give you thanks by choosing to walk in your ways in all things and in all circumstances. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.