September 23, 2015
(Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest)
I, Ezra, rose in my wretchedness, and with cloak and mantle torn I fell on my knees, stretching out my hands to the LORD, my God. I said: “My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you, O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven. Ezr 9:5-9
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Lk 9:1-6
Whenever I hear this Gospel selection, I tend to put myself in the place of the apostles and wonder what it might have felt like being asked to do such an exciting, and maybe even, a scary thing. Can you just imagine, knocking at every door in your neighborhood, and telling each person you meet how they are part of God’s Kingdom, and how they are so loved by God that Jesus offered His very life for them. And then, to offer to heal them, if they would just believe.
I imagine we would probably not get a 100% positive response from everyone.
But, what if, instead of putting ourselves in the place of the apostles, we put ourselves in the place of the people on the other side of those doors? How would we respond to someone knocking on our door and proclaiming that same Kingdom? Would we even open the doors to listen? Would we pass them off as some crazy religious fanatics?
Or would we actually welcome them?
These were the challenges for both the disciples and for the people they brought that Good News to.
You see, Ezra had the same challenge in the time of the Jewish exile. He knew, in the very core of his heart, that the whole reason the Jews were in exile was because of their unfaithfulness to God. And Ezra, being one of God’s faithful, and yet also a member of the Jewish family himself, Ezra was embarrassed for what that family had done against God’s law, through their unfaithfulness. So today we hear him pleading for God’s mercy on his people.
And God’s response to those who did remain faithful, even though they suffered exile, and to those who repented, was precisely the mercy and love that Ezra sought. Through a change in their hearts, they turned from their evil ways back into the good graces of God.
Today, we can truly relate to Ezra’s plight. For a good portion of our own country, and our world, has fallen so far away from God, that we are seeing atrocities that dated all the way back to Biblical times, beginning to corrupt us. From the immorality they saw in Sodom and Gomorrah, to the sacrifice of our own children by abortion, from supporting nuclear proliferation in terrorist countries, to not supporting our own police security forces, we truly are becoming a fallen nation and world.
And, just like Ezra, we are embarrassed for the way our human family looks in God’s eyes. Unfortunately, by losing our moral compass, we have given ourselves the same vulnerability of being conquered and exiled, that the Jewish nation had, hundreds of years before the birth and redemption of Jesus.
And yet, it’s that same Jesus who offers to save us – if we just believe.
We are called today, to let our world know that the immorality taking place is not acceptable to us, nor to God, just as it was not acceptable to Abraham and Lot, nor any of the other prophets of God who followed them.
We are called today to pray for God’s mercy for ourselves, for our country and for our world.
And just like the apostles before us, we are called to let every person WE meet, know, that God still loves us and them, but, that it’s up to us, it’s up to them to open the doors of their own hearts and turn back to God, if we/they truly seek His healing.
As for the faithful, “the remnant,” we can already see the fruit of our prayers, the fruit of our advocacy and God’s great mercy working, as our nation, just this past week, has begun to respond to our call to abolish the atrocity of abortion by de-funding its supporters.
It’s just a little nugget of hope.
But it gives us even greater reason to remain vigilant in answering God’s call to shine His Light into every dark corner of our world. And to BE – His Light – to all of our brothers and sisters in need.
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