Pope Francis says: “Our faith is revolutionary, if it is not idle and spiritualist”. The Bible uses abundant nuptial symbolism to effectively illustrate the alliance between God and His people. The Lord meets this creature in the desert. It is abandoned and He feels pity and tenderness for it, He loves it deeply, to the point of making her become His bride forever. Soon, this bride betrays her husband, becomes unfaithful and prostitutes itself, practicing idolatry. But the Lord is such a merciful spouse that He forgives the infidelity of his people and transforms its heart, making it become faithful again. God does not give in to infidelity.
Getting married does not meant having a husband or a wife, but having a definite relation with this husband or wife. Human beings are relational. Relationships had not created embarrassment, but deep respect in man and woman before the sin. A unit that involved their whole bodily and spiritual wealth. A spouse says to the other: “I love you fully, with all my heart and soul.”
If man recognizes himself as part of a community, he sees the other as a gift and does not abolish difference; abolishing it is the beginning of all violence. Also the man and woman couple can avoid the temptation of violence, which happens in the absence of the love of God and of reliance on the Creator. Hosea experiences a tragic marriage and family situation. He is the first prophet to have used the image of the couple, for him the tender relationship between two betrotheds becomes the paradigm of the love of God. Hosea is the prophet for whom it is impossible not to love. To make his bride come back, he uses the weapon of love, which is stronger than the death infidelity. The love of God overflows, Hosea becomes its witness.
The sins of the chosen people are the proof of the bride’s infidelity to her groom. Whereas God, Whose love is ardent and fertile even when it is unreciprocated, is capable of overcoming separation and of re-establishing the tender and understanding relationship. Hosea makes extensive use of the term prostitution: more than 20 times. Canaanite worship, practiced also by the Jews, included the practice of sacred prostitution (Hosea 4:14). Jewish law regarded prostitution as a shameful thing, like breaking one’s marriage or committing adultery. Syncretism, idolatry, hypocritical and superficial worshipping. The whole history of Israel has been nothing but a huge number of infidelities. The love of God remains faithful despite the betrayal, a boundless love that forgives, re-creates, saves and has therapeutic traits even when even when it corrects. Abandoned and disappointed, God continues to love the adulterous bride and does not cease to hope for her return.
It is touching: God does everything for His bride (the soul, the Church, His people) not to see her lovers again: “I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her” (Hosea 2.8). God continues to seek reconciliation. We need to bring up young people ready for martyrdom-love in the sacrament of marriage. God wants to seduce: “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her”. Leading back in the desert means returning to her condition of absolute fidelity to God; talking to her heart speak means courting. God allures man for first, then does nothing but letting Himself being allured and conquered.
The new name: “It will come about at that time that you will address me as ‘My husband,’ and you will no longer call me ‘My master'”. Now, intimacy of the bond is emphasized. Israel’s response to the love of God, after idolatry and syncretism, is its recognition of the Lord as husband. In the new relationship, Israel sees in the Lord a groom to whom it feels drawn, loved, and requited. Everything becomes meaningful, even in environmental relationship between man and the animal world there is harmony.
A new marriage pact: “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord” (Hosea 2.21). The Lord joins Israel as if it were the first wedding. The power and the love of God transforms marriage to a prostitute or an adulterer into marriage to a virgin. This marriage will last forever, it will be everlasting, with no conditions.
Law and Justice call on action conforming to the statute of the matrimonial union; benevolence or tenderness refer to mutual understanding and kindness; love expresses maternal affection towards the weak; loyalty means stability of the conjugal union; loyalty is the synthesis of everything mentioned above. The only answer God expects from the bride is knowledge based on exclusive recognition. The unloved becomes loved, a new object of consideration and affection.
Taken from The Five Talents of the Spouses