Ezekiel was a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem when he was called by God to warn the people of immanent destruction. If the people did not return to fidelity to God, the people would be exiled and their country destroyed. The people relied on their own wisdom, implemented political alliances for self-preservation and accepted idolatrous practices. Eventually Babylon did capture Jerusalem, and Ezekiel was exiled with the leaders. Now in exile the prophet became a voice of hope, encouraging the people to turn to the Lord and offering them images of hope that one day they would return to Jerusalem, and the glory of God would return to the Temple (the vision of the dry bones returning to life).
In the reading for today, Ezekiel is commanded to eat the scroll, covered with writings, front and back, of lamentations, wailings and woes. When he ate it, the scroll was as sweet as honey. Like Ezekiel, each one of us carries a scroll with writings: our disappointments, our discouragements and our despairs. They create a fear within us that our life will never get better, or we are tempted to flee from them by ignoring or denying them. God shows Ezekiel that we must accept the negative side of life as part of our humanity. It is only in accepting our lamentations and woes that God can act in our life. “Ezekiel” means “God strengthens,” and when Ezekiel ate the scroll in obedience to God’s command, the prophet was admitting his own sins and failures as well as those of his fellow citizens. He was turning to God like the child in the gospel reading today, totally dependent upon the parents for help. What was bitter became sweet as honey.
God continues to perform miracles in our lives if we turn to God with childlike faith and trust. God brings light into our darkness, forgiveness for our sins, strength where we are weak. Let us be humble like a child and enter into the Kingdom of God, relying on the strength that only God can give us.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness. He resides in Chicago, Illinois.