The commentary of the cover

The Son of God and His Betrothed by Pierre-Marie Dumont

The whole of revelation appears as the unfolding unto ages of ages of the great mystery of marriage (cf. Eph 5:32). At the very start of Scripture, man and woman are created in the image of God to be united through love. After the Fall, the People of God never ceased calling for the coming of their Beloved to celebrate with him the new and eternal wedding banquet. And when the Beloved at last appeared, he began his mission at a wedding where he performed the prototype of the many signs he would enact for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind. Finally, when Scripture has its last word, it says, The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let the hearer say, “Come” (Rev 22:17).

This month’s cover of your Magnificat is a miniature from the 14th-century Bible Historiale illustrating a text by Peter Comestor (12th cent.). Here we see the episode of the marriage of the Prophet Hosea to the harlot Gomer. What a tempestuous relationship! Gomer was very soon unfaithful. Then she decided to resume trading on her charms and left home. Her career as a courtesan was so successful, she became wealthier than her husband. Yet Hosea spared no pains to bring his strayed wife back to the marital nest. Even in the depths of her worst betrayals, he never lost hope, continued to forgive, never stopped sharing with her all the fullness of his love and his wealth. Years slipped away and, with them, the market value of Gomer’s charms. She eventually fell into the clutches of a pimp, who exploited her in a brothel. All this time, Hosea had been searching for her unceasingly. When he found her, old and disfigured by the scars of her depravity, his heart was overwhelmed with pity. He sold everything he had to ransom his beloved back from her keeper. And they lived happily together for the rest of their days.

Perhaps you think this story a bit racy for your Magnificat? And yet, have a look in your Bible: it is the human story that God takes up to bemoan the betrayals of his chosen people, making of Hosea a prophetic figure of his beloved Son. From the foundation of the world, the Son of God made humanity the object of his heart’s desire, and from the foundation of the world he has been deceived. Over the long course of the centuries, he has lovingly pursued his beloved, renewing with her his ever-betrayed covenants. Ultimately, he sacrificed himself to redeem her from the power of sin and death. And what then? Well, then it’s up to each of us to write with our lives the happily-ever-after of this love story.

The Marriage of Hosea and Gomer, manuscript illumination from the Bible Historiale (14th c.), ms. 21, fol. 102, Petrus Comestor (12th c.), Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris. © akg-images / Jean-Claude Varga