Called to Prophecy

“So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” (Ezekiel 33.7)

'avin' a think

‘avin’ a think about prophecy and stuff, perhaps…

EZEKIEL was a priest at the Temple when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and exiled its leading citizens in 597 B.C. A few years later, Ezekiel perceived a calling from God and prophesied for the next twenty two years around Babylon. This prophet’s writings were a turning point in the prophetic genre. While his contemporaries thought him strange and difficult, following generations gained political and spiritual insight, as well as strengthening of faith from his reflective and affected discourses. The book of Ezekiel presages the apocalyptic style of Daniel, Revelation and many mystical inter-Testamental writings, including the so called Dead Sea Scrolls of the first century Qumran community.

 

The word mortal in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible quoted in our reading today, is a translation from the Hebrew, בן–אדם, ben-‘adam, which means literally Son of Man. This phrase is taken up famously in the book of Daniel, and is of course often used by Christians as a title for Jesus, usually in a messianic context, with particular reference to Daniel and the later doctrine of the Messiah’s second coming. But Son of Man is most used in Ezekiel (93 times). Significant? Or not? A precursor to a messianic title for Jesus? A coincidental Hebrew/Aramaic idiom for humble reference to oneself or to prenote an important saying? A ripple into time past from the centre of history – the Christ event?

 

Such questions are the stuff of theology and interesting to mind faith but the message of Ezekiel, just like Jesus’ message, is not about educated guessing, academic insight or doctrinal orthodoxy. Ezekiel, Jesus and all the prophets of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are not school teachers, university lecturers or even religious or political preachers. They are spiritual masters.

 

A spiritual master makes no attempt to be polite or even nice. She or he does not build lovely patterns of argument and does not offer a step by step guide to enlightenment. “A master”, writes Fr Richard Rohr, “intentionally leaves a student in the belly of the whale, on the horns of our own dilemmas, struggling with parables, with problems, riddles, and koans.” A master destabilizes the safety devices of the false self or ego so that our self-serving and learned logical reasoning crumbles and we are forced to call on the deeper resources of heart and larger mind. The road to wisdom must necessarily pass through destabilization and therefore powerlessness. The work of a spiritual master is to help us get out of our own way so that we may ourselves pull back the veil that stands between us and truth or reality. Thus the cosmic universe of wisdom and mystery is for us exposed, laid bare, opened.

 

So, as we come to our Scripture readings today and later, as we walk in nature or sit at home, may we pray that we can allow the flow of our own desire to be aligned with the flow of God’s desire. May God’s living water, flowing through every word and action of Jesus, Ezekiel and all the saints and prophets, flow through us, course through our souls and bodies and into the lives of the people we will meet in the weeks and months ahead. If we do not have that desire, then may we pray that we might desire to desire it!

 

But if the sentinel sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any of them, they are taken away in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at the sentinel’s hand. (Ezekiel 33.6)

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~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on September 6, 2014.

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