Today’s reading from Ezekiel is a beautiful metaphoric explanation of how love and mercy flow like water from the Lord to his people. It is a reading that beautifully expresses the depths of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness, particularly the phrase “for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made freshwaters.”
The angel brought me, Ezekiel, back to the entrance of the temple of the LORD, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the façade of the temple was toward the east; the water flowed down from the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He led me outside by the north gate, and around to the outer gate facing the east, where I saw water trickling from the right side. Then when he had walked off to the east with a measuring cord in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and had me wade through the water, which was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand and once more had me wade through the water, which was now knee-deep. Again he measured off a thousand and had me wade; the water was up to my waist. Once more he measured off a thousand, but there was now a river through which I could not wade; for the water had risen so high it had become a river that could not be crossed except by swimming. He asked me, “Have you seen this, son of man?” Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he had me sit. Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides. He said to me, “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
Today, thousands of Catholic men will come together in Baltimore to celebrate their faith and their love for the Lord. We will be taught and inspired by Dr. Scott Hahn, who will open our hearts to the truth of our holy Catholic Church and the sacramental life.
Here is a brief talk by Dr. Hahn for those of us who cannot be with us today.
Pray that the hearts of our fathers, sons, and brothers will be opened to accept the love and mercy of the Lord!
So often when we hear today’s gospel passage from Mark we focus on the command to love our neighbor. Perhaps we do so because we can see our neighbor in the physical world we live in. Yet Jesus is absolutely adamant that the primary commandment for us is to love the Lord our God. We are told to love the Lord above all things with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind. Do we understand that commandment?
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Jeremiah’s rebuke against the people of Israel is sobering, to say the least. He gives his people a vigorous tongue-lashing for their faithlessness despite all of the glorious and mighty works that the Lord had done for them. They were profoundly ungrateful.
Does any part of this seem familiar? Are we not also ungrateful for the things that God has done for us? Our lives are filled with great blessings. How often do we open our lips and proclaim the Lord’s praise?
There is a silver lining. Our God is the great lover and forgiver of his people. No matter what we have done or failed to do, our Father is aways waiting to embrace us. All we need to do is to turn back to the Lord.
Thus says the LORD: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.
But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day, I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers. When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you. Say to them: This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.
Pray this prayer: Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise!
Some Christians are of the belief that the Old Testament was rendered moot by the coming of Christ. They contend that Jesus is all that we can ever need, but it’s not true. In today’s gospel passage the Lord instructs us that the law and the prophets are an indispensable part of a full relationship with the Father.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
So, study the Old Testament scriptures. In them is the path that lead to salvation through the beloved Son of God.
Do we allow God to guide us or do we decide that we can guide ourselves? The Psalmist reminds us that our path of righteousness is to recognize that our loving Father always guides us to what is true, just and holy.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD, and your kindness are from of old. In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O LORD.
Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way.