So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll.
He said to me, “Take and swallow it.
It will turn your stomach sour,
but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.”
I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it.
In my mouth it was like sweet honey,
but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.
Then someone said to me, “You must prophesy again
about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
The Prophet Ezekiel was also commanded to swallow a scroll which, he discovered, was sweet as honey in his mouth. (This chapter -- Ezekiel 3 -- is worth a read if you have the time.) Though he does not tell us how it felt in his stomach he was left, like the Seer of Patmos, with a "spirit angry and bitter." He had to take a Word of rebuke to his people in Babylon.
The Word of God is sweet to one who loves God; like the Father, the Son of God who is the Word of God is "good, all good, supreme good," in the words of Saint Francis.
But, in all honesty, we sometimes find it hard to bear. The curse of abortion which lies upon the United States and many nations is a burden hard to bear. As the priest of Bethel reported to Jeroboam when he complained about the Prophet Amos, "...the country cannot endure all his words."
Since 1973 and Roe v Wade we have seen a deluge of pornography, a worsening drug plague, a severe corruption of our political system that begins with a corrupt electorate, the deterioration of our infrastructure, irreversible climate change and a catastrophic increase in suicide. And yet, no nation seems ready to stop aborting its children.
What curse will come upon the world when we redefine marriage as an asexual temporary partnership?
The Word of God left Ezekiel with an angry, bitter spirit; it upset Saint John's stomach. As the Spirit continues to send Christians to our respective nations with a word which is delightful to the elect and repulsive to the doomed, we can expect push back. We will find less welcome in all the familiar places and will have to find more welcome in prayer, both personal and communal.
During these last weeks of the year, as we approach Advent and Christmas, recalling the birth of Jesus in poverty and his narrow escape from Herod, we will celebrate with great joy the mystery revealed to magi -- in the dead of night.