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Archive for November 24th, 2021


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ezekiel 19: Joy and Two Allegories

Lions raised with care to protect become man-eaters. Vines that sprout strong branches because of abundant water die in the desert. Notes tell us that these two allegories are written in the style of a dirge, a particular kind of funeral song serving as a lamentation comparing present doom with past glory. Ezekiel writes at a time when all hope might be lost; however, as pointed out in notes, Ezekiel elsewhere rejects this sense of hopelessness.

It is difficult, in the times when all around us is dark, and when we find ourselves in drastic circumstances, to keep hope alive. The lioness in today’s reading does her best to rear strong male lions that protect and guide their pride. In the second allegory, the vine is destroyed by drought, fire, wind and heartless transplantation in desert surroundings.  In ideal circumstances, the lioness and the mother vine do all they can to nourish life and yet they fail, or seem to fail. 

What else do these images call forth? We know that the Lion of Judah later roars out of the south to redeem the universe, but in the form of the Lamb in the person of Christ Jesus. We also know that from this stump of vine in the desert which is carted off to Egypt and to Babylon, from this lineage of Jesse and David will eventually spring forth the shoot of the Messiah.  

We know that when something is bound to occur in God’s economy, no force, no circumstance, no evil intent can hold it back. We know that when things appear to be most hopeless, God is most with us. God never fails, especially in God’s time rather than in ours. 

St. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 

In Luke 21:5-11 Jesus tells us:  All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down . . .  See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, “I am he”, and “The time has come”.  Do not follow them!  When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end. 

Jesus is constantly calming the turbulent waters, healing the blind, deaf and lame, bringing light and life out of darkness and death. When times are darkest, Jesus is nearest. The Lion of Judah roars and saves. The vine will bloom, even in the desert. In the Book of Revelation the virgin bearing the child is swept into the desert where she is kept safe from the beast. This tells us that what appears to be an end is a beginning.  What appears to be lost will be found. It tells us that we must trust God’s plan no matter how bleak it may appear. God’s plan is ever so much better than our own. St. Paul writes to the Philippians (3:7): Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Whatever plans I have, I consider as nothing in the economy of God’s providence and love.

And so we pray: On this eve of Thanksgiving Day, let us keep in mind all the times we have waited in darkness and anxiety, and let us turn our worries and complaints over to the one who handles all things well, bringing them to the light of perfection. Let us give our incompleteness to the one who completes. Let us bring our broken hearts and our dirges to God’s feet and offer these woes to the one who will transform them into blessings. Let us bring God our mourning so that it may be joy.  Amen. 


 

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