Immersed in Christ: August 22, 2020
SATURDAY of the TWENTIETH WEEK in Ordinary Time
The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
(Responsorial: Psalm 85)
Ezekiel 43:1-7 is the last reading from Ezekiel. It assures us, reminds us and calls us to keep reminding ourselves, that, regardless of what we see here and now, “the glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.”
Ezekiel’s first task was to prepare his fellow countrymen in Babylon for the final destruction of Jerusalem, which they believed to be inviolable. After that, his prophecy is characterized by the promise of salvation in a new covenant, and he is anxious to lay down the conditions necessary to obtain it. His final chapters are an utopian vision of the Israel of the future, rid of its past evils and reestablished firmly under the rule of the Lord.
We need this vision for the Church today. In the Gospel Jesus is going to blast the “scribes and Pharisees” again, and give directions to his disciples that seem to be unheeded. Lest this leave us with a negative feeling, we need to fill our minds, our imaginations, our dreams and desires with Ezekiel’s vision.
Perhaps no other prophet has stressed the absolute majesty of God as Ezekiel does.... Ultimately, says Ezekiel, whatever God does to or for humans is motivated by zeal for his own holy name. The new heart and the new spirit which must exist under the new covenant cannot be the work of humans; they too must be the work of God. By such teachings he helped prepare for the New Testament doctrine of salvation through grace.1
The reading leaves much to imagination. Ezekiel just suggests: “a sound like the roaring of many waters,” and “the earth shone with his glory.” The temple was “filled with the glory of the LORD.” For details, read the verses of Psalm 85. They inspire.
In Matthew 23:1-12 Jesus shows us what, in the area of ministry, the “work of humans” not united with God looks like. Jesus focuses on dress, “places of honor” at banquets and in church, honorary titles, and anything that makes us look important. The Vatican would have bishops pay no more attention to these directives than military officers and corporate executives do. The last two may have no choice. But bishops have more freedom, if they care to use it.
At the last session of Vatican II, several cardinals, patriarchs, bishops, and theologians gathered to discuss a final proposal to the Council: that the Council Fathers should solemnly pledge apostolic simplicity by renouncing all antievangelical titles such as “Honorary Prelate to His Holiness” (Monsignor). Several hundred bishops were ready for this step. However, time was pressing and the proposal never came to pass.
Maybe next time.
Initiative: See everything human against a background of the glory of God.
1 New American Bible Revised Edition Introduction to Ezekiel. 2 See Bernard Häring, Priesthood Imperiled, Triumphks, 1996, p. 48. To understand, google “Cardinal Rode photos” and “Protonotary Apostolic.”