19th Week, Tuesday, Aug 11

Ezekiel 2:8 - 3:4 / Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
“Preach to the people of Israel. ”:  God speaks to Ezekiel

There was a movie that was shown some time back called "Bruce Almighty". It was about this ordinary man who was given godly powers for whatever reason. Power is indeed very attractive and appealing, and more so for the ordinary man on the street who seems to feel so powerless in all that is happening around him.
And for sports stars to 4-star generals, to have power is to command respect and to be looked up to. So when the disciples asked Jesus who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, just what kind of answer were they actually expecting? Certainly they were expecting some kind of hero or a man of power and might.

Jesus answered them by setting a child in front of them as a symbol of greatness. True power in the human realm is not in aggression or physical might or even intellectual superiority.

True human power and greatness is in being simple and straight-forward, in being loving and compassionate, gentle and kind, honest and just. These qualities express true power and greatness. May the Eucharist change our hearts to be like that of the heart of a child.

The prophet Ezekiel was one of the 3000 upper class Jews who were exiled in Babylon in the year 597BC. It was while he was in Babylon that he started to have visions and gave prophetic insights.
One of which was about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586BC.
Of course, at that time, the people were just too obstinate to accept Ezekiel's prophesies, especially those who were exiled in Babylon. Because the Temple was still standing then, they thought that God will bring them back. They would never had expected to die in a foreign land.

Yet, as we heard in the 1st reading, what Ezekiel saw written on the scroll was clearly an indication of what was to come - "lamentations, wailings, moanings".

If only they had not been so stubborn and obstinate, they might have been spared; if only they had hearts like little children, they might have listened.

Indeed, children are sensitive enough to sense the seriousness of a warning and they will follow as they were told.

Yes, we need to have the simplicity and also the sensitivity of children in order to hear and understand and act on the promptings of the Lord.

As Psalm 8:2 would put it - From the mouths of children and of babes, You have found praise to foil the enemy and the foe.
Tuesday August 11

Tuesday of 19th Week of Ordinary Time


Ezekiel is told to eat the scroll with the prophecies he has to make to the people of God. That means, he has to be filled with its message. It contains bitter utterances, because he has to make the people face the truth of their infidelities, but at the same time it tastes sweet to the prophet because he takes up his mission without protest, for he is doing what he has to do.
For Jesus, a child counts, as God loves what is little. They are the greatest in the kingdom of God, on account of their simple wisdom, their lack of pretension, their spontaneity and their humility. Sinners too are among the little ones, in another sense: low before God – what have they given him? Yet none of them should be lost. In us to the child should survive in the good sense. Are we not placing obstacles in the way of the kingdom on account of our sophistication and pretenses?

Opening Prayer
Great and holy God,
you stoop down to us,
fallible and limited people,
and your preference goes
to children and the humble.
Give us the heart of a child,
unpretentious and receptive, trusting and believing,
that we may become wise with your wisdom
and grow up to the full human size
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In eating the scroll that had been handed to him, Ezekiel fulfills the Lord’s command. The message that he was to preach to the people was one of lamentation and woe. But in eating it, it tasted sweet even though its message was a dire one. The prophet had completed the task that had been set before him. Yahweh is determined to settle accounts with the evildoer.
But it is the picture of recovering the sinner that dominates in the New Testament. One may wonder about the wisdom of leaving ninety-nine unprotected sheep alone and going in search of one. Or of the woman who celebrates the finding of a small coin with an open house. Or the forgiving father who utters not a word of reproach to the son who returns after squandering his inheritance.
Our ways are not the Lord’s ways. God does not measure out forgiveness. His forgiveness is boundless. There is no one who can say that he or she is beyond the pale of forgiveness. The Lord may have to condemn the adamant sinner. But his greatest joy is to invite us back into his love.

Points to Ponder
God’s word: sweet to taste
God wills conversion
The sinner’s return to God

– For those who are the greatest in the Church, that they may serve with great dedication and without looking down on them, the weakest, the poorest, those wounded in life, we pray:
– For all of us, that like Jesus, by loving them and praying for them, we may place in our midst children, the poor, the humble and all who serve, we pray:
– For those working in social welfare institutions, that they may provide shelter and much love for orphans and rejected and abandoned children, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father,
your Son Jesus voluntarily gave up
all divine honors and privileges
to become one of us and to die our death.
He gives himself to us here
in the form of a humble piece of bread.
Give us the attitude of Jesus,
self-effacing and respectful
before you and one another
and available to all calls and all needs.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
No one as great as you, Lord our God,
has made himself as small as you;
no one as distant as you
has made himself so near to us in our weakness
as you in your Son Jesus Christ.
Make us see your Son
here in this Eucharist and in everyday life.
Make us self-effacing and respectful
before you and before one another
in trust, hope and joy,
like Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus tells us to change and to become like little children. This is not an invitation to become childish, but to learn from children to become spontaneous and trusting toward God and one another, admiring and grateful and expecting all that is good, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.