Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
When Isaiah saw the vision of the Lord in the Temple, he confessed himself a man of unclean lips. His lips were purified by a burning coal taken by a seraphim from the altar. Purified of his sin and guilt, Isaiah responds to God’s request for someone to be sent to prophesy to the people: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me'” (Isaiah 6:6-8).
The prophet Jeremiah heard God’s word appointing him a prophet to the nations. He said to God: “Behold, I do not know how to speak; for I am only a youth”. The Lord tells him not to worry about his youth, for he is with him to deliver him from those to whom the prophet speaks. Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched Jeremiah’s mouth saying: “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:4-10).
Ezekiel’s prophetic call and purification happens in similar fashion. He is told not to be like the rebellious house of Israel. The rebellious house has refused to listen to the words of the Lord and make them their own. That is why Ezekiel is given a scroll to eat. His message to the house of Israel is one of lamentation, mourning and woe. God tells Ezekiel that Israel will refuse to listen to him, because they are unwilling to listen to God himself. “The house of Israel are of a hard forehead and of a stubborn heart. Ezekiel is to receive God’s word in his heart and hear God’s word with his ears (Ezekiel 3:4-11).
In the Book of Revelation, John will also eat a scroll: “So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, ‘Take it and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth’. And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. And I was told, ‘You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (Revelation 10:9-11).
The lesson that we can draw from all four is that God’s word is a purifying word, that is heard with our ears and that penetrates to our heart. God’s word is a word that sends us out to the nations, to be witnesses to his love and to the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus will characterize our heart like soil that is either rocky, trampled underfoot, filled with thorns, or fertile. Some hear God’s word without understanding it; others accept it for a time but are soon consumed by the world; others reject it outright and choose to delight in riches of the world; others welcome it and allow it to bear fruit in their lives.
One way to make sure that we welcome God’s word into our heart is to be simple, humble and child-like. A complex, calculating, prideful and hardened heart has no room for God’s word, because it is full of itself. A simple heart focuses on the essential – love for God and love for neighbor. A humble heart recognizes and is thankful for all the good things received from the Father. A child-like heart is ready to be taught by God and molded by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Ezekiel is sent out to the rebellious house of Israel, now in exile in Babylon. Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of Israel and gathers them in by appointing the twelve apostles and being raised up. The Holy Spirit fills the disciples in the upper room and gives them the strength and power and courage to go out to all the world in order to preach the Gospel to all nations and baptize them. The Holy Spirit gives us his gifts and urges all of us to continue this mission, so that all men and women may enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at [email protected].