Memorial of Saint Clare, virgin
(Ezekiel 12:1-12; Matthew 18:21-19:1)
Peace activists sometimes paint shadows of human forms on cement. The figures represent the outcome of a nuclear bomb. Its searing light would bleach the earth 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. This gesture represents 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. As the Babylonian army approaches the city, the king will seek refuge elsewhere. He needs to run because he has lost the Lord’s protection. Like most of his predecessors, he has not led the people in religious reform. Rather he has relied on political maneuvering to rule the people. Now Babylonia is coming to inflict God’s punishment.
God constantly calls us to reform. On a personal level this means enabling others in varied ways to correct their faults. Failing to do so, we are likely to desire that international crises be settled with arms, not reason. If this happens, the world may once again experience the horror of nuclear weapons.