Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ezekiel 12:1-12; Matthew 18:21-19:1)
Peace activists sometimes paint shadows of human forms on cement. The figures represent images that will be left after the searing heat of a nuclear blast lightens everything except the spot shielded by the person. This phenomenon actually took place in the bombing of Hiroshima. The painted figures are prophetic gestures similar to Ezekiel’s activities in the first reading today.
Ezekiel takes his baggage outside his home to indicate that someone will be taking a trip. Then he makes a hole in the wall of his home and slips through it to represent the person’s stealthily leaving home. Finally, he covers his face so as not to be recognized. Taken together, the three symbols foretell the puppet king Zedekiah’s attempt to flee Jerusalem when the Babylonians come to conquer the city. Like most of his predecessors, Zedekiah has not led the people in a reform that would please the Lord. Rather he has tried to use political wit to escape the punishment that will be meted out by Babylonia.
God constantly calls us to reform. We must do so to avoid nuclear catastrophe. Such reform on a remote, personal level includes developing the capacity to bear with others’ mistakes and to forgive others’ wrong-doing. If we refuse and become belligerent with every human offense, we are likely to desire that international crises be settled with arms and not by reason. When this happens, the world may once again experience the use of nuclear weapons.