Scripture: Lectionary 449: Ezra 1:1-6. Psalm 126:1-2.2-3.4-5.6. Luke
Luke enlightens us today with several sayings of Jesus about how to
experience the word of God. The symbol of a lighted lamp is the first
saying that we are to ponder over and pray about. We never light a lamp and then put it under the bed! It is meant to lighten up the house or the room where it is placed. The word of God is what lightens up our specific
churches and the special places where we take time out of the ordinary
things and concentrate on the word of God. Jesus is the Light of the World and he also is the Word of God made flesh and thus can be seen if we are in the light of our faith. All in the house are meant to be seen and to enjoy the light of God’s word and the Word of God, Jesus. Nothing is to be hidden from our love and experience of Jesus. In him there is no darkness at all.
Thus, the word of God, the preaching of that word, and the reading of the Scriptures are the lights that we have in our minds and hearts as we ponder over these special sayings of Jesus in the Gospels. We gather as a
community in order to be enlightened by that word and by Jesus.
We do not hear often from the book of Ezra in our liturgy but it is given
to us today. It is a narrative writing very similar to the I and II
Chronicles which was probably written by the priests of the temple or maybe one special priest who worked under the skills he had and the inspiration he received from the Holy Spirit. “We learn immediately in the first chapter that Cyrus II, the Great Cyrus, was the King of Persia and that he is seen as ordering the Israelites to return to their own land of Judea and to rebuild their Temple. This would be always known to them even to today as the Second Temple. They consider the work of Herod as simply building upon what was started after the Babylonian Exile. This is similar to a return to the land given in the Exodus and the book itself is an exodus like experience.
Cyrus is sometimes looked upon as a secular “messiah” in this historical
fact of issuing a return to their land of Israel. The Spirit, no doubt,
stirred him to make such a decision for this special people who had a
unique belief in the one God name Adonai (YHVH). Jeremiah had predicted the return after a symbolic seventy years and it is historically true that Cyrus the Great is the one who permitted the Israelites to return and to rebuild the house of the Lord, the Temple.
Psalm 126 is the response they felt upon their returning home: “The Lord
has done great things for us. They rejoice as harvesters who bring in a
great abundance of grain, fruit, and are blessed with torrents in the
desert to make this possible even in the arid areas surrounding Jerusalem.