Posts Tagged ‘mark of thau’

Ezekiel 21:12-22Song of the Sword

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Written on January 5 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Much of this prophecy is full of dramatic images, and this one of the Lord wiping one hand against the other in dismissal is striking.  It tells us that we ought not doubt God’s power to save.  In the New Testament, Jesus brings to us God’s amazing power to heal.  What we see in the old as castigating and just, we see in the new as compassionate and merciful.

Rembrandt: Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee

This puts me in mind of today’s Gospel, Mark 6:45-52, in which Jesus comes to calm the storm which tosses the apostles in their fishing boat.  He meant to pass by them.  As a child I always imagined how Jesus moves quietly in our lives calming storms that are too much for us to take.  They were . . . terrified.  But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”  Even as the storm abates, it is all too much for us, and we remain frightened.  And Jesus cannot move past us without reassuring us.  He speaks with us rather than to us.  We are his dearly loved sisters and brothers.

Earlier in Ezekiel (Chapter 9) we have read and reflected on how those are saved from the slaughter who are marked with “the sign of thau,” the cross that designates them as one of the faithful.  We receive this cross on our forehead at baptism and are grateful for it when the sword begins its indiscriminate work.  This mark is not a free pass to do as we like, certainly; rather, it is a reminder to us of how we are to act.  Neither is this to say that the unbaptized are not equally valued in God’s eye and equally redeemed by Jesus.  What Ezekiel reminds us of today is this:  God’s word is certain, God’s promise is sure; we are to call out for help as do the apostles in the storm, and this God we love and who loves us will let us know God’s presence.

When the harvesting sword begins to sing, we will remember to turn to God who is our source and our goal, our north star and our protection.  When God wipes one hand against another in a gesture of dismissal, let us not be afraid, for . . . at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” 

A re-post from November 2, 2011.

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John 10: Coming In and Going Out

Monday, May 15, 2017

Because we hear this story each Eastertide, we know this image well; yet do we listen fully to the description of the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep? And do we notice that once the shepherd leads his sheep into the fold, he then leads them out again?

When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (Verse 4)

In Jesus’ day, it was the habit of a good rabbi to explore familiar scripture to listen for new juxtapositions and orientations. This re-working of a familiar message asks the faithful to remain awake, to sustain fidelity, to live a hope-filled and loving life that will grow in Christ. We return to Jesus’ words.

 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. (Verse 9)

The Winnowing Fork

We do not know the hour or day of the winnowing fork and so we are to stand ready like those who exited slavery in the great exodus with Moses (Exodus). We are to take unleavened bread and remember that we are marked with the sign of thau (Ezekiel 9:4) and respond to the shepherd’s call each time we hear his voice. In this way, we prepare to recognize the shepherd to follow him into the safety of the sheepfold . . . so that we may also follow him back through the gate and into the world.

When we compare different translations of John 10, we have a better understanding of our unique relationship with Christ as the leader who calls us into the sheepfold, so that he might lead us out into the world.

For an interesting article on the Exodus story, visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/moses-exodus.html

For more information on the sign of thau, visit the Biblehub at: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/ezekiel/9-4.htm

For more on the connection between the sign of thau and the sign of the cross, visit: http://catholicexchange.com/biblical-roots-sign-cross

Adapted from a reflection written on August 30, 2007.

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