We begin two weeks during with first readings from the prophet Ezekiel who introduced himself in yesterday’s reading. He was of the priestly tribe of Levi, and he was one of Jerusalem’s elite whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried in exile to Babylon in 597 b.c.. Ezekiel said he began prophesying five years later, in 592.
Most of his utterances were of an apocalyptic nature, taking the form of dream-like visions. (cal was an old word for a cover, and the word apocalypse literally means to take the cover off matters that were long hidden.)
In today’s apocalyptic vision God has him eat a scroll on which heavenly words were written.
You might have heard this before. The Hebrew word for a prophet was Nabi, which was originally a child’s name for his or her mouth. Each of the prophets lent his mouth to God for speaking God’s word. When Jeremiah declared himself incapable of prophesying, God reached down, touching his mouth. When Isaiah said his unclean lips rendered him incapable of speaking the Lord’s words, God sent an angel to take a red hot coal from the altar with which he seared Isaiah’s lips, preparing them to speak God’s words.
I like pointing out that in our Baptism ritual the pouring on of the water is followed by an anointing with the consecrated oil of chrism. The priest reminds the newly baptized person that he or she has been baptized into Christ, and thus shares in Christ’s role as priest and prophet. We are thus equipped to lend out mouths to God to speak his truth.