Psalm: 89:1-18
Old Testament: Ezekiel 4:1-17
New Testament: Hebrews 6:1-12

Author’s note: Originally, I had totally misheard the Old Testament reading at the Cathedral and thought Ezekiel ate/cooked with the human dung and built my reflection around that idea. The post stayed that way for the majority of the day. I have since changed it…..but to those whom I inadvertenly led astray…mea culpa! mea culpa! Will definitely make a more concerted editing effort in future posts. 🙂

‘See, I will let you have cow’s dung instead of human dung, on which you may prepare your bread.’ (Ezekiel 4:15)

But if [your faith] produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over. (Hebrews 6:8)

Eeeew! We have some pretty dark images going on in today’s readings, non? :S Despite my own discomfort though, I think there is still something to be gleaned here.

I am particularly struck by Ezekiel’s command from God to literally eat shit. :P. It is shocking enough to our own sensibilities, but for a prophet, the thought of doing such a thing would be unbearable.

According to the Torah, if a Jewish person came into contact with biological waste (corpses, menstrual blood, feces, urine &c.) there was an automatic exclusion from the whole congregation. Normally, there would be a priestly ritual (lasting anywhere from 7-14 days) that would remove the contamination and allow the person to re-enter the people of God.

Of course, with Ezekiel writing during the Babylonian Exile…the Temple is gone and the Levitical priests have been banned from practicing their faith. To eat animal dung would be to enter a state of defilement that was impossible to recover from ritually.

For all his protesting, Ezekiel is told he must eat the feces in order to convey God’s message to the people. Like so many prophets who have come before him, this faithful Jew is called to say and do things that seem impossible.

There is also an interesting twist to the story.

In his mercy, YHWH has allowed Ezekiel to eat cow’s dung–rather than human dung…..for to eat a waste product of God’s most precious creation is too great an embarassment. Even in the midst of humiiation, there is mercy. 🙂

On a metaphorical level, there is also something comforting to know that even when we must eat shit…..God is with us…loving us…..upholding us…..even to the end of the age. +

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