By Ken Asel
A Reading from Ezekiel 36:22-27
22 Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations and which you have profaned among them, and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my spirit within you and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
The Scripture selections for today are tightly connected. Psalm 107 appears to be written for a group of pilgrims on a journey back to their homeland. In verse 33 of the psalm, they come across a land they feared would be desolate: “He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants”; but quickly the punishment for turning away from God has been transformed into forgiveness and fruitfulness as a gift from the Lord for the needy: “He settled the hungry there, and they founded a city … and brought in a fruitful harvest” (vv. 36-37).
Now we are joined by the great prophet, Ezekiel, who speaks beautifully, with foreshadowings of the sacrament of baptism. The sinfulness of the worship of idols has been washed away. Whatever has separated the people of Judah from each other has been forgotten! The Spirit of God is inspiring the population’s recommitment to the Lord to make them holy once more. Ezekiel eloquently evokes the image of stone hearts, roadmarkers of their sins, now become beating hearts of flesh. No more fruitless wandering. No more exile. Welcome home, sin no more.
Once again the words of the psalm are taken up by the sacred messengers. Hear the divine mercy expressed through the great prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and a host of others who also call us to return to the home God promises, to claim and receive the blessedness the Lord has prepared for all who love him, without end.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest of the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married more than thirty years and reside on the Front Range.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Northern Luzon – Philippines
Parish of Calvary-St. George’s, New York, N.Y.