Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Aug.16. Lectionary 419. Ezekiel 24:15-24. Deuteronomy
32:18-19.20.21. Matthew 19:16-22:
Ezekiel in his prophetic role acts out what the Lord intends him to say to
the people of Israel. Some of his behavior is quite bizarre and also
tragic as we see in today's lesson. He does not speak or mourn his wife's
death but acts it out as a way of showing what the exile will mean once it
happens. He is not to mourn her publicly just as the people will not be
able to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem. It is a sad and difficult
passage for us to read and understand. His wife was a very faithful and
probably a beautiful person for he calls her "the delight of his eyes"--
which also is applied as a way of describing the holy city of Jerusalem.
His wife's death symbolizes the destruction of that city and the coming of
the exile. A Jewish commentary on the passage is helpful: "Ezekiel's
action draws upon priestly sanctity to symbolize the inability of God and
the people of Judah to mourn the loss of Jerusalem when in exile."
Leviticus 21:1-12 forbids priests--Ezkiel was one-- to come into contact
with the dead and the high priest may not mourn for the dead." Such will
be the personal loss of Ezekiel and the loss of the nation of the
Israelites. Rabbinic tradition does interpret the passage as an
instruction on the proper manner of mourning.
Jesus is approached by a man who is searching for the kingdom of God and
eternal life. He asks Jesus what he must do. The answer of Jesus is
threefold: first, keep the commandments especially those that deal with
our neighbor; secondly, give alms to the poor, and third, sell all you have
and come follow the Lord if you want to be perfect in the sight of the
Lord. These are the strong demands of discipleship according to the
narrative of Matthew. We have seen examples of how difficult it is to
think and to enter into the thoughts of God when it comes to our own
personal desires, our possessions and our attachment to them. Following
Jesus is not easy but it is what is called for if we wish to enter the
kingdom of God. Again, we cannot do this by ourselves and nor can
communities of believers do it alone. Jesus has to be at the center of our
desires and is to be the precious possession that we long for as we attempt
to love him in one another, in ourselves, and in who Jesus is for us.
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