Year B: 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Ezekiel 17: 22-24
The link between the Gospel and First Reading is very simple - the planting of a tree which will grow large enough to shelter in its branches. It may be that Jesus had heard the passage and was echoing something his hearers were familiar with.
It speaks of the power of God - the Lord who has command over the greatest and least.
The cedar represents Judah and the twig taken from the top is prophetic of a new king from the house of David. The other trees represent the kings of surrounding nations who will see the power of God. As he can make a great tree grow from a twig, so God can humble those who are growing tall and lush.
As in the Gospel, the use of image offers insights that might otherwise be lost. As Ezekiel was in exile, it also offered a coded way to proclaim the prophecy - which was unlikely to have made him friends in Babylon.
Like all the prophets of the Exile, Ezekiel saw it as a punishment that God had allowed to happen because of the unfaithfulness of the people. The task of the prophets was to admonish the people but also to help them to keep faithful to the Law in Exile when the Babylonian ways might seem more appealing.
They were also charged with keeping the flame of hope alive that Israel would be restored - that God was stronger than the kings who held them subject and, though punishing them, had not lost his enduring love for them.
We are in a different kind of exile - perhaps physically far from home but also far away from our eternal home. We too need to be reminded that though things happen that are beyond our power to control, God is in ultimate control. When we are aware of tyrants - or simply people with power exploiting the vulnerable and innocent, it is good to be reminded of a God who can take a twig and make it into a tree that dominates the landscape but which provides a home for some of the lowliest of Godís creatures.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring