“Ephraim, how could I part with you? Israel, how could I give you up? How could I make you like Admah or treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender” (Hos 11:8).

If only we could know our Father’s heart better! Then the layer of ice around our heart would begin to melt, so that His love could penetrate it, transforming us and making us capable of loving like Him.

Whoever loves and wants to grow in love, must also be willing to endure suffering, for it often happens that “love is not loved”, as a St. Francis of Assisi lamented.

In the words we hear today from the Book of Hosea, we can know the Heart of our Father. Despite all the transgressions of His people and so many offences against His love, God does not want to leave them at the mercy of the forces of destruction.

Israel is indelibly inscribed in His heart (cf. Isa 49:16) and has its place there. After all, it was God Himself who created this people. He called them and betrothed Himself to them with unwavering fidelity: “I shall betroth you to myself for ever (…); I shall betroth you in faithful love and tenderness” (Hos 2:21).

To reject and abandon His people would mean for our Father to do violence to His own Heart. But God cannot and will not do it!

His compassion grows warm and tender; that is to say, it becomes a flame that wants to take pity on man’s misery.

God wants to forgive and not to reject. God wants to lead men back home, not to abandon them in a foreign land. God suffers on the cross for those who reject Him.

It is always man who separates himself from God and is unfaithful to Him. It is always God who calls him back to Himself and keeps faithfulness to him. “If we are faithless, he is faithful still, for he cannot disown his own self” (2 Tim 2:13).