The first reading contains a beautiful description of what God has in store for Israel. As I wrote yesterday, I feel like we often hear about God’s wrath for Israel’s transgressions. We hear about the consequences of their unfaithfulness, often involving failed crops, destroyed cities, and wailing children. Today is different though. Today God starts with an invitation to repent. He doesn’t pretend like Israel never did anything wrong, no, but He recognizes their pathetic state and offers them redemption.
“Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. … Say to him, ‘Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good … We shall say no more, “Our god,” to the work of our hands.’”
God invites Israel back into restored relationship with Him. I see in this passage the story of the prodigal son. Like the prodigal, Israel had fallen so low, but they recognized their destitute state. They came back to the Father knowing full well that they broke His trust, that they no longer deserved to be called His children. God is the Father from the prodigal son parable. Look at the good things He has prepared for repentant Israel! “I will love them freely; … I will be like the dew for Israel. … His splendor shall be like the olive tree… and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”
What is important for us to note is that these gifts, this inheritance, is only offered if Israel repents. It would be easy to say that this is evidence that God’s love is conditional. Au contraire! No, God’s love is never conditional, but our hearts are. When we sin we are effectively rejecting God’s every gift. We say, “No thanks, I think my plan is better.” The only way that we can open our hearts again to receive His profound gift of Love is through repentance.
What do you need to repent of? What are the ways that you’ve turned away from God’s love in your life? As long as we are this side of heaven, there is always something. Don’t fool yourself into believing you’ve arrived, that’s the devil trying to tempt you into complacency. No, there is more for you on the journey. Ask the Holy Spirit what it is you need to repent of. Then do it, go to confession, and begin again.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization