Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Illustration of The Fox and the Grapes by François Chauveau, 1668

What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
Ezekiel 18:2-3

In other words, stop talking in clichés, says God, and undermines the oft-quoted 'sins of the father' proverb, reminding everyone that they are responsible for their own choices and behaviours.1 It is easy to blame one's parents, much harder to take responsibilities for one's own actions. This chapter in Ezekiel is the forebearer of Jesus' message that all sins (inherited or committed) can be forgiven if the sinner repents. According to Ezekiel we are judged by our last act/s. The sinner repenting and giving himself to God at the end of his life will be redeemed. The good man, committing one sin at the end of his life will conversely be punished for that one sin. We have complete control of our destiny, being judged solely on our choices and our own actions. Ezekiel is attempting to have the people of Judah take responsibility for the downfall of their state, something most were struggling to do, wishing instead to blame their ancestors and their brothers.

The "someone else's fault" (SEF) syndrome is alive and well today: it is the republicans' fault, it is the Brexit voters' fault, it is the immigrants, the unvaccinated, the climate change deniers, the arms dealers, the meat-eaters, the banks, the dog owners, the young, the old, the next door neighbour. Not me. Ezekiel asks us to look again.

1 "The people of Israel responded to the preaching of men like Jeremiah and Ezekiel with clichés and proverbs, not with reasoned argument." from The Major Prophets by J.E. Smith, Joplin, MO: College Press, 1992