Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ezekiel 2:8-3:4; Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14)
An old labor organizer once told the story of how a worker approached him one day saying that a preacher was talking to other workers. The organizer said that the workers needed to have the fear of God put into them. The worker responded that the preacher was not talking about the workers’ faults but the organizer’s faults. The organizer then went to investigate. Like the labor organizer the prophet Ezekiel realizes the importance of hearing the word of God.
Ezekiel is given a directive to eat the scroll; that is, he is to take in the word of God. It is sweet to the taste, not because it tells of destruction for the people but because it ends in the people becoming purer, better, more like God Himself. There is a glimpse of this in the gospel today. Jesus’ parable speaks of a shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep. The shepherd is God returning the wayward to the path of goodness.
We might find some satisfaction in preaching to people about their sins. But that may be a sign that we are sinfully proud and contemptuous. Instead of self-righteously criticizing others, we need to develop the habit of praying for others before we speak to them. And when we talk with them, we should be ready to explain why we see their actions as injurious. In these ways the word of God grows in both them and us.