Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ezekiel 2:8-3:4; Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14)
A Protestant businessman once told a priest that he had the best job in the world. Used to be told that priests were overworked, the father was wondering what the businessman had in mind. Then the man explained himself. He said that not everyone has the benefit of having to study the word of God like ministers do. He had it just about right. Priests are privileged by being called upon to study and preach the word of God. Ezekiel expresses this thought in today’s first reading.
Ezekiel is given a directive to eat the scroll; that is, he is to digest the word of God. It is sweet on the tongue because it speaks of the victory of faithfulness over idolatry, of justice over oppression. But it also produces bitterness. Justice demands judgment against those who prefer to comfort themselves rather than give what is due to others. In the end it can only be hoped that the unjust see the way of God and change.
We might find some satisfaction in talking to people about their sins. But that may be a sign that we are 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.