Wed, 15 August 2018
(Ez.12:1-12; Ps.78:7,56-59,61-62; Mt.18:21-19:1)
“As captives they shall go into exile.”
“The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.” O the woe of the “rebellious house”! How their sins eat away at their souls like hands digging holes in a wall; how they must hide their faces from the light of day and from the Lord’s glorious face. Into what hell they cast themselves with no means of escape, their burden too heavy to bear.
The house of Israel “turned back and were faithless like their fathers,” and so the Lord “surrendered His strength into captivity, His glory into the hands of the foe.” And just such a fate awaits all who are hardened by sin, who have no forgiveness in their hearts. For all owe the Lord “a huge amount” and all have “no way of paying it”; and so all deserve to be sold into slavery. Only the mercy of God preserves us from such a fate. But can a heart know mercy which shows none? Can a soul receive forgiveness if it continues in sin? Does not this house remain in exile from its God? And what shall become of the one who spurns the love of God as does the wretched servant? Shall he not be like him whom “the master handed… over to the torturers until he paid back all that he owed’?
There is only woe for the soul so set in opposition to the loving will of God. There is only banishment from His sight. As the Lord “was enraged and utterly rejected Israel,” His chosen children whom He had loved and blessed and forgiven so much, so all shall die in their sin who refuse to turn to Him... for there is no place for the evil with the good.
From darkness let us come, brothers and sisters. Exile from the Lord let us avoid. May we, too, learn from Ezekial’s sign and open our eyes to the danger upon us. On our knees let us come to our confessor, who has been instructed by his Master to forgive “seventy times seven times,” and so wash ourselves clean of our rebellion – and then share the same with others. To the Lord let us return.
O LORD, save us from the captivity
wrought by our sin;
let your mercy and love work in and through us.
YHWH, how shall we avoid exile from you and from your holy face? For we are a rebellious house, blind to your mercy. And if we are blind to your mercy, if we cannot hear you calling us back to you through your prophets, through the Word that comes to us by your Son, how can we find anything but condemnation and exile? Into prison we shall be cast to pay for all our sins if your Son’s love we fail to recognize in our midst.
It cannot but be that as we reject you, as we rouse your jealousy by our vain idols, by the false love we so desire with our faithless hearts, you cannot but reject us – do you not respect our wills, dear LORD? And if we choose not to share the mercy you offer to our barren souls, if we have not love in our hearts for others in need of that same mercy… how can that mercy be said to be ours? If we harden our hearts against you and your love, we build the prison in which we find ourselves.
O LORD, release us from such hell to dwell with you and our brothers in your House.