Thu, 16 August 2018
(Ez.16:1-15,60,63 or Ez.16:59-63; Is.12:1-6; Mt.19:3-12)
“I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl,
and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you.”
Ezekial first “make[s] known to Jerusalem her abominations,” telling the people, “You were thrown out on the ground as something loathsome, the day you were born.” And though by the Lord’s blessing they “grew and developed”; and though when they were “old enough for love” He “spread the corner of [His] cloak over [them]”; and though when He “swore an oath to [them] and entered into a covenant with [them]” they became His, the recipient of all the bride’s gifts and graces – “You were adorned with gold and silver; your garments were of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. Fine flour, honey, and oil were your food” – yet they took the beauty with which the Lord had endowed them, and turned to harlotry. The wisdom of the Lord, His laws and decrees with which He favored no other people, which were the source of their glory, they spurned in favor of the wickedness of the nations.
The hardness of the hearts of the Israelites we find well illustrated in our gospel today; their attitude toward the marriage covenant reveals their level of faithfulness to the Word of the Lord. A covenant is made binding for all generations, yet the Lord relates the truth to those who question Him: “Because of your stubbornness Moses let you divorce your wives.” Never was it meant to be so. This promise, this sacrament Paul later tells us mirrors the love of God for His Church, was ever meant to be lasting. But how weak is the faith and the love of even His chosen, causing even the disciples to marvel at all that is asked of them.
But the covenant the Lord made with His people in their immaturity, the marriage He called them to when they were but profligate children, He now comes to make everlasting through the grace brought by His only Son. He forgets us not in our sin and weakness; He remembers our humble origins.
Now may we “be utterly silenced for shame when [He] pardon[s] all [we] have done”; now may we declare, “God indeed is my savior” and rely entirely upon His strength and the word from His mouth. “Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!” and He comes now to wed you to Himself forever.
O LORD, let your Covenant with us never be broken;
may we be wed to you forever.
YHWH, if anyone ever had the right to divorce his wife, you have the right to separate us from yourself. For how unfaithful we have been! How profligate have been our actions against you who took us from the ground, from the gutter, and gathered us to yourself… washing us clean of our sin, of the blood upon our hands, and clothing us as a queen before your majesty. How foolish we have been, and yet you show us mercy.
Indeed, we are utterly silenced for shame at your grace at work in our lives, at the gifts you bestow on your rebellious child. O LORD, to yourself once again you take us, and for this what can we do but shout with exultation? We do not deserve your faithfulness toward us, yet you renew your Covenant with us in Jesus our Bridegroom; and even greater are the blessings now as we return to you. In His blood let us be washed, and clothed in His wedding garment.