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That Sweet Honey of Obedience

First Reading: Ezekiel 2:8—3:4

The Lord GOD said to me:
As for you, son of man, obey me when I speak to you:
be not rebellious like this house of rebellion,
but open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.

It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me,
in which was a written scroll which he unrolled before me.
It was covered with writing front and back,
and written on it was:
Lamentation and wailing and woe!

He said to me: Son of man, eat what is before you;
eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel.
So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat.
Son of man, he then said to me,
feed your belly and fill your stomach
with this scroll I am giving you.
I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.
He said: Son of man, go now to the house of Israel,
and speak my words to them.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131

R. (103a) How sweet to my taste is your promise!
In the way of your decrees I rejoice,
as much as in all riches.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
Yes, your decrees are my delight;
they are my counselors.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
the joy of my heart they are.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
I gasp with open mouth,
in my yearning for your commands.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!

Gospel: Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”

NAB

aug 9

When I was a little girl, I remember my parents treating me and my sister to honey sticks on occasion—when we were out shopping at a local store, farmer’s market, or fair. These straws full of honey were pure delight to drink. I can almost taste the oh-so-sweet goodness now when I close my eyes and think back on those precious memories.

When the Prophet Ezekiel said, It was as sweet as honey in my mouth, he was not talking about enjoying a delectable honey stick. Oh no, my sisters. He was talking about eating a scroll.

Hold up. What? A scroll which read “lamentation and wailing and woe” was sweet as honey?

Yes. And why? Because Ezekiel was obedient to God. He was obedient even when it probably did not make much sense to him. It may have even seemed crazy. Yet he did what the Lord asked of him, and his reward was sweet.

Is God calling you to greater obedience to Him? Maybe you are struggling in the vocation where God has called you. Maybe there is a Church teaching that you grapple with understanding. This is a reminder for me, and for each of us, that God calls us to be totally obedient to Him and His ways. If you’re anything like me, that can be hard sometimes! How can we do that?

Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven, it says in today’s Gospel reading from Matthew. Humility. It takes humility to obey the Lord’s laws and to walk in His way—to rid ourselves of pride and to follow Him.

My prayer is that we might be more like the Psalmist who gasp[s] with open mouth, in my yearning for your commands. Close your eyes for a moment, sister, and try to visualize this. Picture yourself as the Psalmist, mouth gaping wide open for God and gasping for His commands. Would that our desire for God might be so strong to move us to this place!

Let us sing together: “How sweet to my taste is your promise!” Even when it’s difficult. Especially when it’s difficult. For His promises are our salvation and our joy, and obedience to His promises will lead us to the eternal sweetness of Heaven.

May the way we live our lives reflect the sweetness of God’s promise in our hearts. May others be drawn to Him, like bees to honey.

Elise Howe is a devoted wife, momma, and musician currently living in NYC, though she will always be a midwestern gal at heart. You can find out more about her here.

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