This is the beginning of a series where Thomas Smith takes a closer look at six prophets from the Old Testament, God’s messengers.
In this first post, we will meet the messenger Hosea. Our prophet lived in the eighth century BC, during the reign of King Jeroboam II. His audience was the Northern Kingdom who had abandoned covenant faithfulness with the Lord. Their spiritual lives were marked by idolatry, injustice, and oppression of the poor.
God’s first command to Hosea wasn’t to simply call people to repentance, but to embody in his own life, the broken relationship between the Lord and his people, Israel.
Hosea was called to marry a prostitute named Gomer, who would symbolize Israel’s own unfaithfulness. His marriage and family became a living parable to his audience. This dramatic embodiment was intended to awaken Israel to their true spiritual condition and call them to return to the Lord and his life-giving law.
Embody God’s Message with Your Life
Like the ancient prophets, we are called not only to share our message but to embody it. It is not enough to simply present an armload of faith facts. The world needs more than words. They need to see a gospel that is lived and embodied in our relationships, marriages, families and professions.
What is the fundamental message we are called to embody?
While there are many parts to the “Good News,” Pope Francis, led by the Holy Spirit, has been emphasizing, in particular, the message of mercy. He has demonstrated that it can be an open door to welcome not only new believers but those who may have felt estranged or distant from their faith.
So, let’s ask ourselves in what ways can we embody that message?
There are many ways, but let me propose three. They involve interior conversion, prayer, and concrete actions.
- Become a student of Mercy. Commit to memory the seven corporal works of mercy and the seven spiritual works of mercy (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 2447). Use them as a regular spiritual checkup or examination of conscience. Ask yourself, “How am I regularly performing or supporting with my prayers or almsgiving these fourteen works?”
- Pray daily for God’s mercy to be upon our world, especially war-torn countries. Ask for God to have mercy upon your nation and enkindle mercy within its citizens, so we will be the guardians and protectors of those in most need of our mercy, especially the unborn and aged. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a wonderful way to gather this intention to the Heart of Jesus.
- Most importantly, BE mercy! Look for every opportunity to speak and demonstrate God’s merciful love in your daily encounters. This is one of the most powerful ways to evangelize because it is revealing the face of the Merciful Father revealed in Jesus to others. Include in your morning prayer this intention:
“Lord, help me this day to embody your merciful love in word, deed, and prayer. Give me your eyes of mercy to see the needs of those around me and respond with generosity, compassion, and love.”
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Thomas Smith is the co-author of Wisdom: God’s Vision for Life, Revelation: The Kingdom Yet to Come and The Prophets: Messengers of God’s Mercy. He is an international presenter for The Great Adventure Bible Timeline. Bringing a wealth of experience and insight on the Word of God to audiences across the U.S., Thomas is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after parish mission and conference speaker. Thomas Smith has taught as an adjunct professor at the St. Francis School of Theology in Denver, and is the former Director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Denver Catechetical School. He lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho and writes for his website www.gen215.org.
This article was first published on The Great Adventure Blog, Ascension Blog’s former home, September 30, 2014.
Featured image, The Prophets Hosea and Jonah (c. 1510), by Raphael sourced from Wikimedia Commons