God speaks harsh words to Ezekiel the prophet. For Ezekiel knows the harsh things he should be saying to his fellow Jews, and that this will be for their own good in the long term. But who likes to tell others off? So God actually threatens him with punishment if he does not speak out when he knows that he should.
In the letter to the Romans Paul is addressing the Christians living in a context which is not easy for them; they are among people who recognise a great variety of gods and cultic practices and are not at all in favour of these followers of the Way of Jesus who set themselves apart from the general public. Paul reminds them that love is the important attitude and practice – love of all not just among themselves!
Matthew in the gospel if addressing organised Christians who seem to be getting a bit disorganised and are having problems with some of their fellow Christians. He wants them to know that there are ways of dealing with trouble-makers but they should always do it as gently and tactfully as possible. These ideas are behind the authorities that we have in the organised church to this day.
Please say whether or not you prefer this shorter intro to the readings – comment below!
see Jeffs Jottings – The unexpected