Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ezekiel 24:15-23; Matthew 19:16-22)
A forty-three year old husband and father died recently. He was vacationing at a lake with his family when he jumped in the water, came up once briefly and then went under never to surface alive again. Of course, the family was devastated not knowing what happened until an autopsy revealed that he had an undiagnosed brain tumor which evidently caused him to pass out in the water. This Wednesday the family will hold a memorial service for the man at which friends will gather to offer condolences and to recall why the dead man was loved so well. Such a service seems necessary to dispel some of the grief of the sudden loss. It is exactly what is denied in the first reading today.
The Lord tells the prophet Ezekiel not to mourn his recently dead wife as a sign to Judah that the nation will not be permitted to mourn their loved in the upcoming combat. He does not will the nation harm but recognizes that war often leaves people so desperate that they do not have time to bury their dead. God wants the people to repent of sinful ways by turning to Him as their Savior. Only by following His ways will they know consolation and peace.
The prophetic message will often sound harsh to us who have grown accustomed to thinking the perfect society is where everyone “lives and lets live.” But God has made us for something greater than that. He calls us to be His people – to love Him as our Father and to love one another as sisters and brothers. Here is where happiness resides.