Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sweet and Sour

By Colleen O’Sullivan

I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it.  In my mouth, it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.  (Rev. 10:10)

Lord, may your word find a home in me.

Sweet and sour?  No, not Chinese food.  We’re talking about the word of the Lord. 

Many, many years before either of today’s Scripture readings are written, God gives the prophet Ezekiel a scroll to swallow.  This scroll is covered with words on both sides.  Written on the scroll is “Lamentation, wailing, woe.”  The prophet eats the scroll and discovers that it is sweet as honey to his taste.  

Now that you have swallowed my word and it is part of you, take it to the people of Israel, Son of man, says the Lord.  My people have proven hard-hearted and stubborn.  (Israel is in exile while the holy city Jerusalem is being besieged and reduced to rubble.)  Speak to my people, Ezekiel.  Warn them that the way of sin is the way of death.  I am holding you accountable.  The word doesn’t sit so well in the prophet’s stomach as he realizes the task before him.

In today’s reading from the Book of Revelation, a somewhat similar story unfolds.  John is told to take the scroll being held by an angel and to swallow it.  In his mouth, it tastes sweet as honey, but it sours his stomach.

So many things in life are both sweet and sour, even our faith.  I guess I would say bitter and sweet.  The sweetness is our God who loves us so much he sent his Son to be our Savior.  The sweetness comprises the mercy, forgiveness, and redemption which are ours for the asking.  The sweetness is the promise of eternal life to those who believe.  How bitter is the path to salvation that goes by way of the suffering and death of Jesus on the Cross?  There is no other way to Easter and the Resurrection but by way of Calvary. 

We, too, are offered the chance to “swallow” the Word, to make it part of our very being.  Some days that is a sweet, sweet gift and other days it is cause for weeping as we take up our crosses. 

We Catholics are offered the scroll and given the chance to taste the word of the Lord, but, on the whole, we are not known for our knowledge of the Scriptures.  Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters far outshine us in that arena.  It is, nevertheless, God’s desire that we have intimate knowledge of the salvation story of the Bible.  No matter how many times we read the Scriptures, there’s always something we never noticed before, a verse that brings us solace or one that challenges us to change our thinking or take some action.

So, as the church year winds down, and Advent and a new year are upon us, why not make a resolution to better acquaint yourself with God’s Word in the coming months.  Join a Bible study group or spend time each day reading the Scriptures at home with a study Bible or a commentary.  Your life and your faith will be all the richer for doing so.

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