20th Week, Monday, Aug 17

Ezekiel 24:15-24 / Matthew 19:16-22

Sin is a fracture or a break in our relationship with God. Yet it must be said that it is us who initiated that fracture or break by our committing sin.
The words "fracture" or "break" are certainly expressive enough when we experienced before how painful it can be when our bones are fractured or broken.

 It may be sad to say this, but human beings do not quite know the consequence of sin until they feel how painful it can be.

Moreover, if we have other ways to numb the pain, we would have recourse to that, be it alcohol or drugs or whatever that may give us some temporary escape from facing the reality.

What we heard in the 1st reading was rather drastic. The prophet Ezekiel lost his wife but he was told by God not to mourn or grief.

It was to be a sign to a stiff-necked and hardened people who still thought that as long as the Temple of God was standing, He will come to their rescue sooner or later.

But God has a painful shock for them. Because the Lord said this, "I am about to profane my sanctuary, the pride of your strength, the delight of your eyes, the passion of your souls." In other words, God will allow His Temple to be destroyed by enemies.

Yes, it was a painful shock and an even more painful awakening for the people to know that this is the consequence of their sin. Yet, it was they themselves who brought that tragedy.

In the gospel, we heard that the young man went away sad after hearing what Jesus said about giving his money to the poor.

We should feel sad for that young man because he could not see what was only temporal and what was eternal.

But we should be sadder still if we still can sin and think it is not going to be that painful. For all we know it may just be an eternal pain, if we do not repent and turn back to God.


Physical pain can be bearable but yet when the pain goes beyond the body's threshold of tolerance, then the body will just black-out or shut down. That is the body's way of handling pain.

But how about sorrow and grief? There are certain ways to express our sorrow and grief, like crying and wailing. But when sorrow and grief overwhelm us, what will happen to us?

When the prophet Ezekiel's wife died, he was told by God not to express his sorrow and grief. Moreover, when the people asked him why he was not grieving, he was to respond that this was how God wanted them to mourn for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

The point here is that the mourning, the sorrow and the grief is so great that it cannot be expressed in the usual way.
Similarly, to give up the material and the luxurious things of life can be a painful sacrifice, as the rich young man in the gospel passage of today would surely understand.

To lose wealth and health can be overwhelming.

But the ultimate tragedy and disaster is to lose God and heaven because of personal sin as well as the unwillingness to repent.

No amount of sorrow and grief can be expressed for that kind of tragedy and loss.

May we always desire for the eternal treasures and cherish the blessings that God had bestowed on us.