19th Week, Friday, Aug 14

Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63 / Matthew 19:3-12
God speaks of Israel: “I loved you, but you deserted me.”

Some time ago America magazine carried an article entitled “Adult Runaway.” It dealt with the growing number of adults who desert their spouses and families. These adults almost always end up unhappy. Quoting the head of the Missing Person’s Bureau of Los Angeles, the article says: “The majority . . . would give anything to be back living their former lives. But they mistakenly figure there’s no way they can undo the past.”
Today’s reading compares Israel to an adult runaway. It also portrays God as being willing to forgive if the runaway would only return.

How do we handle family frustrations? Do we seek help when these frustrations become “unbearable,” or do we foolishly hope the situation will remedy itself? “A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt each day.” Andre Maurois

Ezekiel tells the story of Jerusalem and its rise from a tiny, corrupt backwater pagan town to the corrupt grand capital of David's kingdom. He frames it as an allegory like a motion picture from the 40's. A wealthy man finds a young girl in the gutter. He cleans her up, gives her everything and then she leaves him for someone else. In the section between verses 1 5 and 60, omitted from the reading, Ezekiel describes her activities in graphic terms that prudes might call "pornographic." It does catch one's attention.

Ezekiel sees the relationship between God and Jerusalem as a marriage that had broken down. God remains faithful and ready to heal His wanton people. Ezekiel's core message is that God will not abandon His people despite their sin.

We are familiar with the proverb "Great oaks grow from little acorns". Indeed, everything has a humble beginning. Great cathedrals were once started from a single block of stone. If Rome wasn't build in a day, then everything will have to grow and be built day by day. Humble beginnings must always be remembered, so that however glorious or whatever greatness is achieved, one won't get too proud or conceited.

In fact, as nature would show us, the taller the tree, the deeper the roots. The greater we become, the more we must remember how we began.

In the 1st reading, we read how God favoured His people and blessed them with abundance. But as the 1st reading tells us, they became infatuated with their own beauty. Their vanity made them think that it was all their own achievement and that also made them turn away from God and turn to the other nations for more wealth and fame.

They forgot that it was God who provided for them and it was His blessings that made them famous and prosperous.

Because they forgot their humble beginnings, God treated them as they deserved - they were covered with shame and reduced to silence. They were humbled so that they can remember the covenant that God made with them and turn back to Him.

Similarly for us, in whatever state of life, we must remember our humble beginnings and remember that it is God who brought us to this blessed moment.

So whether in marriage, or as a single, or as a religious or priest, minor or governor, peasant or president, let us continue to turn to the Lord our God for His blessings and guidance in life.

It is God who will make us great and prosperous; we just need to be humble and remember our humble beginnings.