Monday – A Vision of Glory
Read today's first reading from the prophet Ezekiel slowly and carefully. What do you notice? What strikes you?
The hand of God settles on Ezekiel, and he experiences a spectacular vision, a vision of glory. It begins with a huge cloud of flashing fire. In the midst of the cloud are four winged creatures with human forms, the cherubim, those angels who worship God with mighty voices.
Then above them, Ezekiel sees a throne. Upon it sits One who appears as a man, gleaming with color and light and fire. He is surrounded in splendor; in fact, He radiates splendor. Ezekiel realizes that he is seeing a vision of God's glory.
God is choosing to present Himself to His prophet in a way Ezekiel can understand. He accommodates Himself to Ezekiel's way of knowing so that he can catch at least a glimpse of his Lord and learn to worship and adore with greater love and trust.
God does the same for us, perhaps not quite so dramatically, but in very real ways. We encounter our Lord in the Eucharist, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, in the events we live and the people we meet, and in our own hearts. God reveals Himself to us so that we can know Him better, worship Him with confidence, and love Him more and more. Then, one day, we too will see a vision of God's glory when we meet Him face to face in Heaven.
Tuesday – One Sheep
The shepherd had a hundred sheep. Ninety-nine of them stayed close to him and followed him. But then there was that one sheep, the troublemaker, the rebel, the one who thought he could go off on his own and find something new and tasty to eat. All he found was trouble.
The shepherd could have left his wayward sheep to his own devices. After all, he had many others. Losing one wouldn't make too much difference, especially when that one didn't seem to care much about obeying. The shepherd might have felt that the troublesome sheep would get exactly what he deserved and left it at that.
But he didn't. Instead he went after the sheep. He searched high and low, knowing that his sheep was in great danger away from the flock. He even left the other ninety-nine behind for a time, for they were safe together.
And when the shepherd found his rebellious little sheep, he didn't scold him or beat him. Far from it. Instead, he rejoiced because the lost was found, and he led the sheep back to the flock with great tenderness.
One would hope that the straying sheep had learned his lesson. Life is pretty scary for a sheep without a shepherd. Wolves howl all around. Food becomes scarce. Darkness closes in. Perhaps the sheep discovered how good he really had it under the shepherd's care.
We little, rebellious, straying sheep ought to learn the same lesson.
Wednesday – The Case for Giving
In today's first reading, St. Paul makes a case for generous giving. He begins with an analogy, comparing givers to sowers. Sowers who aren't stingy with their seed but distribute it widely will reap an abundant harvest. Sure, some seed might not take root. Some might get lost along the way. Greedy birds might even eat some. But most of it will grow and flourish and produce a fine crop.
On the other hand, sowers who plant only a few seeds and try to maintain firm control over each of them will end up disappointed. They will reap only a small crop.
Paul continues with a comment on the proper attitude of givers. Givers, he says, ought to be cheerful. They should prudently decide how much they can give, not sadly or under constraint, but willingly and with joy. Giving is an imitation of God, Who is the perfect Giver. When we give, we share in His activity. This is something to celebrate.
Further, Paul reminds his readers that God has given them everything they have. Every grace, and that includes even material possessions, comes from Him. He provides everything His people need, and He expects them to share what they have with others. That, too, is part of His providence, for He works through creatures to meet the needs of others creatures. Our job is to cooperate and spread around His abundant blessings.
When we do this, Paul concludes, the One Who sows in us, Who provides us with all good things, will see to it that we receive a great harvest of righteousness, both now and forever.