Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 414. Ezechiel 2:8-3:4. Psalm
119:188.8.131.52.111.131. Matthew 18:1-5,10.
"O taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8). This beautiful
thought from the psalm is taken up in one of the contemporary liturgical
songs used for a Communion meditation: "Taste and See, Taste and See the
Goodness of the Lord...." Its melody helps us remember the inspired word
of Psalm 34 and leads us to appreciate the gift of our senses particularly
that of tasting, savoring, etc. God is someone we can touch and taste! The
Jewish commentary says that the word means "consider" but in the footnote
to verse 8, it has this salient remark:"literally, 'taste,' a significant
word. More effective than theorizing about God's goodness is the test of
experience. Only by encountering it in one's life can it be really known."
Ezekiel has an experience of taste in his prophetic role of listening and
obeying the word of God given to him for others. He is told to eat a
scroll which is written on both sides (this is to show how important
parchment is and how costly. Such a scroll on both sides is what is called
a palimsest that is one written on front and back of the parchment). This
scroll was swallowed but it tasted sweet in the prophet's mouth. He
describes his personal experienc of it "as sweet as honey in my mouth."
This is also what Psalm 34 says. Though not found in today's liturgical
readings it does emphasize how the words of God are sweet to those who
listen and are obedient to God's summons.
Psalm 119 is our longest psalm and it is an acrostic. The verses are
chosen from across the expanse of its 176 lines based on 24 stanzas
starting with each of the 24 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and following
through to the end. This aleph to tau or a to z, or alpha to omega.
The scene from the Gospel is entirely dedicated to the gentleness and
kindness of Jesus to children and how he draws for us an important lesson
about them. This is also sweet nourishment for our hearts and souls for
the joy and peace of children depend on how we treat them. Jesus tells us
why we should be so gentle and loving to them without ever harming them in
any way. The lesson is timely for what we hear about the abuse of children
in so many ways. Jesus is also concerned for us who are to be formed as
children destined for the kingdom of heaven. Jesus always pays attention
to the "little ones" both the children and the poor and marginal (the hoi
mikroi in the Greek text). Our love, gentleness and kindness teaches them
to do the same as they grow into their early years of life. Jesus gives us
this reward for being ever aware of them and watchful: "Whoever welcomes
one such child for my sake, welcomes me." Not one of these little ones
should perish or be hurt for such is the ones who are in the kingdom and
who are watched as Jesus says by their angel. Amen
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