Readings: Ezekiel 2:8-3:4; Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
The Lord GOD said to me: “As for you, son of man, obey me when I speak to you: be not rebellious like this house of rebellion, but open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.” It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll which he unrolled before me. It was covered with writing front and back, and written on it was: “Lamentation and wailing and woe!”
He said to me: “Son of man, eat what is before you; eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat. “Son of man,” he then said to me, “feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you.” I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. He said: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.”
How can a message of “lamentation and wailing and woe” taste sweet in the prophet’s mouth? Ezekiel found the message sweet because it meant God was neither blind nor indifferent to the evils in his midst and that these evils, one way or another, would not continue forever. Either sincere conversion or painful events would soon check his people’s wickedness. This was the prophet’s consolation. Jesus says:
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?
In the parable of the Lost Sheep, we focus on the lost sheep’s consolation while forgetting the ninety-nine’s desolation. The flock may fare just fine, but they will find the experience quite unsettling. Jesus tells us:
Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.
For forty years, the people of our land have intentionally and legally ended the lives of roughly one million unborn children annually. What would the opposite of receiving Jesus look like, if not this? Jesus warns us:
See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
This represents a warning, because God’s angels are fearsome and righteous creatures. Let us earnestly pray for our country’s conversion to a culture of life. Yet we too share Ezekiel’s consolation, for one way or another, this evil in our midst will not go on forever.