7TH JULY 2022
GOD'S VULNERABILITY SHOWS GOD'S POWERFUL ATTRIBUTE OF COMPASSION.
HOSEA 11:1-4. 8-9
PSALM 80:2-3. 15-16
Today's First Reading depicts God's compassion for God's people despite them rejecting him. It offers us a look into the metaphor of God as a parent, and it daringly explores the possibility of divine emotion, divine vulnerability and even pain when the people decide to worship Baal.
The book of Hosea contains a remarkable variety of metaphors for God and for human beings. In addition to the marriage metaphor that dominates Hosea 1-3, many other metaphors appear throughout Hosea.
For example, God's people are compared to a cow (4:16,10:11), dew (6:4,13:3), an oven or a cake in 7:4-8, a dove (7:11). God is also likened to maggots (5:12) and to a lion and other wild animals (5:14,13:7-8).
and to dew (14:5).
Based on your own current spiritual experience, what metaphor can you assign yourself and even assign God another metaphor so as to describe your attributes as well as God's in your relationship with him?
Despite the pain of rejection, God admits feeling internal turmoil at the thought of God's children by saying: my heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. This not an aloof detached God. Rather, God's relationship with humankind involves emotional risk and deep involvement with the people.
The choice to love is the choice to open oneself to pain because emotional risk comes with the uncertainty that you may feel bad after making a decision.
God decides to love and to forgive people who have rejected him. What if they relapse into rejecting divine overtures again? This risk taking by God well seen and understood through the metaphor of a parent, is a powerful attribute of God that also expresses a shocking divine vulnerability.
Emotional risk and vulnerability go hand in hand. The risk you take exposes you to vulnerability.
Vulnerability is consciously choosing not to hide your emotions or desires from others. You just freely express your thoughts, feelings, desires and opinions regardless of what others might think of you; and here God does not mind what other nations will think when he decides to continue loving Israel despite being rejected by the Israelites.
Did the father of the prodigal son care much about the sentiments of others when he welcomed him back? He did not. Did the sinful woman who wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair put into consideration the thoughts of those who were having a meal with Jesus? No, she didn't. Did Jesus in today's Gospel reading think about what others would say when he sent his disciples to go and preach without carrying anything? He didn't. He just sent them like that.
Often, there is a mismatch between how people perceive their vulnerabilities and how others interpret them. We tend to think that showing vulnerability makes us seem week, inadequate and flawed- a mess.
Whenever there is vulnerability there is always tension between two attributes, and here there is tension between divine anger and divine compassion. Compassion eventually wins out. Vulnerability can bring out a positive attribute to the benefit of two parties.
It is the triumph of mercy over justice that is fundamental to God's identity, not the tension between these attributes.
In a world that encourages being strong and decisive, God's love that is seen in vulnerability gives us the opportunity to connect better with God and with others and to rebuild broken and strained relationships that include recalling the past days that were good so that the goodness can continue being experienced.