But you, mortal, hear what I say to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you. I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it. He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe.
He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey. He said to me: Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I love the contrasting images in the reading from Ezekiel: First, a scroll with “lamentation and wailing and woe” written all over it; and second, this same scroll tasting “as sweet as honey” in Ezekiel’s mouth. Wouldn’t such negative words taste bitter?
When God’s Word moves through us, there is an inner peace — a sweetness — which is able to eclipse whatever distasteful tasks we must undergo. They do not come often for me, but I have had wonderfully absurd moments of consolation in the midst of bad situations. Like Ezekiel, God gives us the energizing power of the Word to live out our vocations in the midst of all that comes our way.
For prayer, you might return to a moment of consolation in a time of turbulence, and ask God for gratitude and endurance for the future.
Suffering is a call to conversion: it reminds us of our frailty and vulnerability.