18Aug 18th August. Monday, Week 20

First Reading:  Ezekiel 24:15-23

(The prophet is not to publicly mourn his wife’s death, as a sign that Jerusalem will die and be un-mourned.

The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your upper lip or eat the bread of mourners.

So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded. Then the people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things mean for us, that you are acting this way?”

Then I said to them: The word of the Lord came to me: Say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes, and your heart’s desire; and your sons and your daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your upper lip or eat the bread of mourners. Your turbans shall be on your heads and your sandals on your feet; you shall not mourn or weep, but you shall pine away in your iniquities and groan to one another.

Gospel: Matthew 19:16-22

(To seek perfection in our lives, we must not only keep God’s commandments but share with the poor, to fully follow Jesus.)

Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. ” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. ” The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. ” When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Coping with misfortune and responding to grace

Oddly, Ezekiel is told not to publicly mourn his wife’s death, a woman charmingly described as, “the delight of your eyes.” His neighbours are naturally amazed tto see Ezekiel proceeding with life as usual, the day after her death. They demand to know, “What does this mean for us?” He tells them not to mourn or weep at some future date when, after the long siege of Jerusalem and the horrifying losses they will experience,  God will desecrate the sanctuary, the stronghold of theirr pride, “the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul.” If in our turn we accept whatever misfortunes are sent our way by life or providence, we get the strength to begin over again, as they had to. This chapter in Ezekiel marks the end of the first half of his prophecy, up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

In the gospel Jesus teaches us to make the best use of our gifts, talents and assets, by sharing them with others. Everyone is called to this positive and generous interaction; and some may even be called literally to give up everything and to own nothing for the sake of the kingdom. In one way or another all are asked to share of the best that God and life has blessed us with. We are being led deeply into the mystery of the kingdom where actions are not judged by worldly wisdom but by the instincts of faith.


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