On Wednesday, we heard for a final time God enjoining His Law on Israel. Yesterday, Jeremiah made clear that Israel had utterly failed to follow that Law. Today completes the cycle, with a promise of restoration given through Hosea. “'I will heal their defection,' says the Lord, 'I will love them freely.'” It's of a piece with other assurances: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son...” “...as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her...” God can't help it – He can't hold back from loving His people and restoring them no matter the cost. But love is a give-and-take, and we have our part too, outlined in the Gospel: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
In both the call to ancient Israel, and the call of Jesus in the Gospel, there is a common thread: we are to understand these things. They can't be a matter of parroted words or imitated actions; there is a reality to them, beyond words, that we must grasp. We're nearly halfway through Lent, and the character of the season will change in just a few days; take today, this fast day, to reflect on what understanding has so far come.