The passage taken from the prophet Hosea turns our thoughts immediately to the resurrection of Jesus, to the mystery of his death and his rising to unending life. This text of Hosea -- the first half of Chapter 6 -- was deeply impressed upon the heart and mind of Jesus. In fact, more than once in the Gospels he repeats Verse 6: "I want love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God more than holocausts." Jesus does not cite Verse 2 but he makes it his own and he realizes it in the Paschal Mystery: "After two days he will give life back to us and on the third he will raise us up again, and we will live in his presence." In the light of these words the Lord Jesus entered into the passion, he decisively embarked upon the road to the cross; he spoke openly to his disciples of what must happen to him in Jerusalem, and the words of the Prophet Hosea echoed in his own words: "The Son of man will be given over into the hands of men and they will kill him; but, once he is killed, after three days, he will rise again" (Mark 9:31).
The evangelist observes that the disciples "did not understand these words and they were afraid to question him" (9:32). We too, in the face of death, cannot fail to experience the sentiments and thoughts characteristic of our human condition. And we are always surprised and overcome by a God who draws so close to us that he does not even stop before the abyss of death, who rather passes through it, remaining for two days in the tomb. But exactly here the mystery of the "third day" occurs. Christ takes on our mortal flesh completely that it might be invested with the glorious power of God, by the breath of the life-giving Spirit, who transforms and regenerates it. This is the baptism of the passion (Luke 12:50), which Jesus received for us and about which St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans. The expression used by the Apostle -- "baptized into his death" -- never ceases to strike us, such is the concision with which he summarizes the dizzying mystery. Christ's death is the font of life, for into it God poured all of his love, as in a great cataract, which makes us think of the image of Psalm 41: "Abyss calls to abyss, in the roar of your torrents; all your billows and waves have passed over me" (8). The abyss of death is filled by another abyss that is greater still, namely, the love of God, which is such that death no longer has power over Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 8:9), nor over them who, by faith and baptism, are associated with him: "If we have died with Christ," says St. Paul, "we believe that we will also live with him" (Romans 8:8). This "living with Jesus" is the fulfillment of the hope prophesied by Hosea: "… and we will live in his presence" (6:2).
In truth, it is only in Christ that such a hope finds its real foundation. Before [Christ] it ran the risk of becoming an illusion, a symbol taken from the rhythm of the seasons: "like the autumn rain, like the spring rain" (Hosea 6:3). At the time of the Prophet Hosea the faith of the Israelites was in danger of being contaminated with the naturalistic religions of the land of Canaan, but this faith is not able to save anyone from death. But God's intervention in the drama of human history does not obey any natural cycle; it only obeys his grace and faithfulness. The new and eternal life is the fruit of the tree of the cross, a tree that blossoms and bears fruit from the light of the sun of God. Without the cross of Christ all the energy of nature remains impotent before the negative force of sin. A beneficent force greater than that which moves the cycles of nature, a Good greater than that of creation itself: a love that proceeds from the "heart" itself of God and that, while it reveals the ultimate meaning of creation, renews it and directs it toward its original and final goal. (Read entire homily.)
Review: Mercy in the City
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