A good amount of biblical references in this numbered section:
114. In God’s word, we find many expressions of his love. It is as if he tried to find different ways of showing that love, so that, with one of them at least, he could touch your heart. For example, there are times when God speaks of himself as an affectionate father who plays with his children: “I led them with cords of compassion, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks” (Hos 11:4).
One of the more intimate books, a prophet who saw a marriage (his own) to an unfaithful wife as a metaphor for the fractured covenant between God and Israel. Even today, Hosea touches on the human capacity to lose our focus, question our commitment, and doubt our love for God. In that passage from chapter 11, another image of family love: God as tender father doting on children.
The Old Testament is not without feminine images:
At other times, he speaks of himself as filled with the love of a mother whose visceral love for her children makes it impossible for her to neglect or abandon them: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Is 49:15).
Nor without symbols of courtship and love:
He even compares himself to a lover who goes so far as to write his beloved on the palm of his hands, to keep her face always before him: “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands!” (Is 49:6).
With such vivid images, it’s no wonder the last third of the book of Isaiah touches so much on the human imagination:
At other times, he emphasizes the strength and steadfastness of his invincible love: “For the mountains may depart, and the hills be shaken, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be shaken” (Is 54:10).
In these final passages, I notice how composers–and not just contemporary ones–have used these as inspiration for songs, either in worship or for the concert hall:
Or he tells us that we have been awaited from eternity, for it was not by chance that we came into this world: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jer 31:3).
Or he lets us know that he sees in us a beauty that no one else can see: “For you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you” (Is 43:4).
Or he makes us realize that his love is not cheerless, but pure joy, welling up whenever we allow ourselves to be loved by him: “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory. He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zeph 3:17).
Just as human love can be expressed in any number of contexts: children, spouse, lovers, an appreciation of strength or beauty, a lifelong commitment, these can begin–and only begin–to approach the depth and breadth of God’s choice to love the people he has created and called to be his own. Any comments? Remember to check Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on this link at the Vatican site.
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