Close Encounter of the Divine Kind
Homily for Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Preached on August 9, 2010 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
Readings: Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28c; Psalm 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14; Matthew 17:22-27
Anyone who has watched the History channel will tell you that some so-called experts cite this passage from Ezekiel as Scriptural evidence of the existence of extraterrestrials. These experts believe that the prophet’s vision by the River Chebar is an account of a close encounter of the third kind. What Ezekiel saw—the “huge cloud with flashing fire (enveloped in brightness) from the midst of which…something gleamed like electrum” (Ez. 1:4)—was some sort of unidentified flying object. The one who had the appearance of a man seated on something like a throne (Ez. 1:26) was the alien pilot of this spaceship. All the other details from the vision apparently are elements of typical UFO sightings. But, seeing that we are not gathered here for a UFO convention, I will leave all such comparisons to the programs of the History channel.
It cannot be denied that Ezekiel had a profound experience by the River Chebar of something other-worldly. In his account, he struggled to describe what he encountered and found that only metaphors could portray what was obviously so extraordinary. Everything he saw and heard was like something else and yet was also so much more. He was so mesmerized by this incident that he concluded, as any person of faith would, that “such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of God” (Ez. 1:28).
Let me be clear: the prophet’s vision was not a sighting of some Old Testament UFO. What Ezekiel experienced was not a close encounter of the third kind; it was a close encounter of the Divine kind. Everything he heard and saw was not extraterrestrial but rather celestial in origin. His vision reminds us that the glory of God is that overwhelming to behold, that an experience of the Divine is not so easy to explain even in metaphors, that our God is just that mesmerizing and so much more.
I suppose some alien aficionados would dismiss our assessment of Ezekiel’s vision. But even they would agree with us and the prophet that our God is truly out of this world.