Wednesday, August 12, 2020


Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 (Ezekiel 9:1-7.10:18-22; Matthew 18:15-20)

Today’s first reading tells of God proposing a slaughter of idolaters in Jerusalem.  The idol worshippers are likely the Jewish remnant left behind during the exile.  They would have followed the religious directives of their Babylonian overlords.  The obliteration dictated is disgusting to modern ears.  It seems unfair that people will be obliterated for worshipping pagan gods, albeit in the Temple constructed for the God of Israel. 

 Of course, society conceived itself differently then.  The gods, whether the Lord of Jews and eventually Christians or a system of deities, were considered essential not only for identity but for defense.  People worshipping other gods were seen as traitors who needed to be executed to preserve the nation.  In the emerging Christian tradition of today’s gospel tolerance of sinners is recommended.  Jesus tells his disciples to treat unrepentant sinners only as outsiders.  That is, they are to ignore them, not kill them.  Still at times when Christians came to dominate societies, defectors were persecuted.

Many are leaving the Catholic Church and the Christian faith tradition today.  Some of these follow strange practices that we may see as idol worship.  Perhaps those who have drifted away are members of our own family.  We do no good by ostracizing them.  We may help them by becoming more devout Catholics and more Christ-like Christians.  If they ridicule us for living what we believe, let us converse with them as the gospel recommends.  Our faith is logically coherent and has been productively lived for centuries.  It is not a system of belief that can be seriously dismissed.