Life Is The True And The Good
Wednesday: Nineteenth Week of the Year: August 10, 2016
Year II: Ezekiel 9:1 to 10:22; Psalm 113:1-6; Matthew 18:15-20
The Responsorial Psalm teaches us to look for God’s goodness in everything we experience: “The glory of the Lord is higher than the skies” (Psalm 113).
In Ezekiel 9:1 to 10:22 God appears to be a savage, ruthless avenger. In the vision Ezekiel saw, God commands his imaginary servants, “Show neither pity nor mercy; old men, young men, virgins, little children and women, kill and exterminate them all.”
They are to follow behind “a man in white with a scribe’s inkhorn in his belt.” This man is to “go all through the city… and mark a cross on the foreheads of all who deplore and disapprove of all the filth practiced in it.” The killers are instructed, “Do not touch any of those who have a cross on their forehead.”
The first thing to notice is that this did not actually happen. Ezekiel writes about his visions, in which things appear the way they do in dreams. What we look for in the interpretation of dreams is some truth or unconscious knowledge that underlies fantastic and even impossible images. So what we look for in this vision is some truth that the images want to make us aware of. Whatever that truth is, to be true, it has to reveal the love and goodness of God. The Scriptures, like Jesus, “testify to the truth.” And the truth is that “God is love” (John 18:37; 1John 4:16). If anything we read makes us see him in any other way, we are reading it wrong. “The glory of the Lord is higher than the skies,” but sometimes he reveals it by showing us how things really are on ground level.
The truth of this reading is that anyone — any man, woman or child old enough to know right from wrong — who does not “deplore and disapprove of all the filth practiced” in the cities or countries of our world is just asking for death. Intellectual death through accepting what is false for true and what is bad for good. Spiritual death for embracing the nothingness of evil instead of the “life to the full” that Jesus came to give. And often physical death too, because of the sickness, misery and violence that sin inevitably yields wherever it is sown and not rooted out. But God saves. For him to save us, however, we must choose between the “Gospel of Life” and the “culture of death” (see John 6:53-54; 10:10; Matthew 12:30; John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, no. 12).
In Matthew 18:15-20 Jesus teaches the way of life, which is the way of community. This is life in the image of the Trinity, which is “an eternal exchange of love” in which we are “destined us to share” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 221).
Jesus teaches us to repair divisions immediately, not by marshaling the support of a private “lynch mob,” or by “telling momma,” but by talking things out peacefully and on equal terms, one on one. If this fails, we should invite mutually acceptable, non-threatening facilitators. Only as a last resort do we appeal to Church authority, whether in assembly or in officials. The unity we seek is a union of mind, will and heart, not of forced or fearful conformism.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Build community through truth sought and shared in love.