Scripture: Lectionary 451. Sept.25th. Ezra 9:5-9. Tobit 13:2.3-4.6.7-8.6. Luke 9:1-6:
We learn of the return of the Israelites to Jerusalem and their commission to build a new Temple in place of the ruins left by the enemies of the Israelites. The book of Ezra is the history of this return. We read only three selections of it during this week, but they are important for the salvation history of God’s people of all times. This return is seen as a new Exodus experience, perhaps, not as painful and not as lengthy as the first Exodus. Ezra acts like the new Moses in this special book of the Bible and this will lead to the foundation of Judaism and rabbinic tradition.
The return is seen especially in the remnant that comes back and in those who had been left behind, probably, the poorest among them. The Persian Kings allow them to return and even encourage them. Thus the prophecy of Jeremiah is fulfilled in this homecoming led by Ezra. He will be a model leader in this part of Israel’s history both as a priest and a builder and a man of the covenant and the laws of Israel given by Moses.
He begins with a personal act of repentance and then extends it to the entire people thus asking God for his merciful forgiveness. They are to return to the Mosaic law and the covenant they promised. God is never outdone in generosity. We learn of his mercy and kindness to Ezra and the Israelites. The verses chosen from Tobit express the inner spiritual experience of this new epoch in the history of Israel. These are striking verses from Tobit: “Blessed be God forever! For though he has scattered you among the Gentiles, he has shown you his forgiveness even there. Exalt him before every living being, because he is the Lord our God, our Father and God forever.”
Jesus commissions the Twelve to preach the Good News of the Kingdom and to cure the sick. They are to do so quickly while moving from village to village, town to town. Simplicity is their way of keeping alive the urgency of this Good News for the people. They will be journeying much with Jesus and sometimes on their own journey of proclaiming and witnessing. Luke is the evangelist of journeying and pilgrimage for all who read his journey narrative and aspire to be simple disciples of the Lord. There is urgency in the call to a new evangelization which we must not lose sight of and which we should take part. The journey is one of simplicity in our lifestyle; peace within our hearts and courage in our witness to the Gospel and to Jesus. We, too, are invited to proclaim the Gospel and to witness to others through our self-giving, our peaceful demeanor, our patience, and our sheer dogged endurance with our own crosses in life. The way of simplicity is essential to this proclamation and witness.
I found this saying from Colleen Carroll Campbell in her latest book, My Sisters the Saints:
“The pilgrim who seeks God never travels alone.” This was very helpful to me and I hope it spurs you on today to do God’s will. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.