Daily Homily: As Captives They Shall Go Into Exile

Thursday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two

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Ezekiel 12:1-12
Psalm 78:56-57, 58-59, 61-62
Matthew 18:21-19:1

Ezekiel carries out another prophetic action. During the day, he prepares his baggage as if ready for exile; during the night, he digs a hole in the wall of the city and passes through it, setting out into the darkness. This symbolizes that the people will go into exile and their king will die in exile. The line of David will not be destroyed and from this line will come the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

«In all that he does, God acts in order to bring his people to the knowledge that he is the Lord. His acts of judgment are like his works of salvation insofar as they reveal the Lord to his people. The destruction of Jerusalem (7:9), the death of the impious (7:15-27), the end of the false prophets and diviners (13:14,23), and the dispersal into exile (12:15; 22:16) communicate a knowledge of the Lord just as will his raising of the lowly (17:24) and his restoration of his people in the covenant (16:63; 20:44)» (M. Duggan, The Consuming Fire, Ignatius Press, 311). God’s wrath is actually mercy, he chastises and sends suffering to wake up his people from their sin (see (M. Barber, Singing in the Reign, Emmaus Road, 110).

Today’s psalm is taken from Book Three of the Psalter: these are psalms that portray the fall of the kingdom and the exile of Israel. In particular Psalm 78 tells how the people rebelled against God (78:32) and only repented for a time. «The people continued to rebel and provoke God once they entered into the Promised Land, despite all the wondrous things He did for them (vv. 35-55). So the Lord allowed them to be taken into captivity and gave them up to their enemies, even allowing the ark of the covenant to be taken away from them (vv. 56-64). Nevertheless, after a little while, the Lord redeemed His people and saved them through his servant David, elevating the tribe of Judah and making his dwelling on Zion (vv. 67-72)» (M. Barber, Singing in the Reign, Emmaus Road, 109). The psalm gives hope to Israel in exile that one day their exile will end and the kingdom of David will be restored.

Today, Jesus finishes his fourth major discourse in the Gospel of Matthew. The first was his sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29); the second was about the mission of the Twelve and his disciples (10:5-10-42); the third was composed of the parables of the Kingdom (13:1-53). This fourth discourse deals with life in the community of the Church (18:1-35). The last major discourse will be about the last things – the demise of the Temple, the Great Tribulation, the second coming of the Son of Man, the need for watchfulness, the judgment of the nations (24:1-25:46).

In his discourse on ecclesial life, Jesus begins by correcting any misconceptions about true greatness in the Kingdom of God. It is a greatness not built on the sand of pride, but on the solid rock of humility. The Kingdom belongs to the child-like and pure of heart (18:1-9). Second, the Church are called to seek out the lost sheep, so that none are lost (18:10-14). Third, the members of the Church, brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus, are to be reconciled with one another so that they can pray to the Father, with the Son in the Holy Spirit (18:15-20).

Today we learn that mercy has no limits: we are to forgive our brothers and sisters as often as necessary. In fact, in the Our Father we pray: «Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us». We are to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful, knowing that in doing so we will receive his mercy. Our forgiveness cannot remain on the surface and be reduced to some words I say to those who have offended me. Jesus today asks us to go deep and forgive our brothers and sisters from the depths of our hearts.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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