Our readings highlight the idea of judgment and mercy—God’s judgment and mercy. When others are hostile to us Christians, Jesus says in so many words: Don’t retaliate—just leave them for God’s judgment. And that’s pretty much a threat, based on the fiery end Sodom and Gomorrah experienced. So God’s judgment sounds pretty harsh.
But the Prophet Hosea describes God’s judgment in a very different way. He talks about the mercy of God, the forgiveness of God, and even God’s tenderness. It’s almost like our readings today are talking about two different Gods; one who’s wrathful and the other who’s gentle and quick to forgive. But, of course, there’s only one God.
So either God is unstable or there’s something else at play here. And what’s at play is the differences in the human characters in these stories. As we know, there are people who are believers—more or less; who have accepted faith in God to some degree. To these people (which is most people) God is slow to anger and quick to forgive. They (we) are like children who are learning; and we don’t get overly angry with kids who are trying to learn.
But there are others who outright reject God and everything God is about: truth, goodness, beauty, harmony, relationship, etc. They flat out reject it. To those people God’s judgment would be harsh. After all, if someone rejects the very Spirit of love, what else would they experience but the absence of love. If someone rejects the very Spirit of truth and beauty, what else would they experience but the opposite of those things.
God responds to us according to how we respond to him. If we let ourselves be his children, let he will treat us as children: with love, tenderness, and an abundance of forgiveness. May we today renew ourselves as children of God, sons and daughters of God who wants nothing more than to love and be loved in return.