Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we are reminded of God’s love and kindness, His ever present compassion and care for us, and His desire to be reunited with us, so that we who are sinners may be forgiven our sins, and receive from Him healing from our corruptions and sickness due to those sins, and that we may be reconciled and reunited with Him, that we may find our way back to Him, to be once again in His grace and presence.
We are all called to recall what we heard in our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Ezra, who was a priest of God that was instrumental in leading the remnants of the people of God in the days of their return from their exile in the land of Babylon and Assyria. King Cyrus of Persia had declared emancipation or liberation for all the Israelites to be able to go free to their homeland after having suffered in exile for many decades from the tyranny of the Babylonians who destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple.
Ezra was a priest and leader of the people who led them in their prayers and supplications before the Lord. Imagine the pain and consternation that those exiles might have experienced when they saw their homeland again for the first time after many decades. Most of them would not even have known or had any memories of living there before their exile, but they must have heard the tales of their historic homeland from their elders and parents, who shared with them the tales of the old kingdoms of Israel and Judah, of Jerusalem and its glorious Temple, built by King Solomon.
When the descendants of those who were exiled arrived back in their ancestral homeland, what awaited them was likely mere ruins, as Jerusalem was thoroughly looted and ransacked by the forces of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon during its conquest. The Temple was destroyed and nothing much was left of the great House of God that was once there. It was with this context that the prophet Ezra spoke on behalf of the people, as their High Priest before the Lord, in supplication for them seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sins they and their ancestors had committed.
For it was because of the disobedience of the Israelites that they had fallen in disgrace and were conquered and overcome by their enemies and were bereft of their homeland. The destruction of the Temple built by Solomon to be the House of the Lord was a very visible sign of God’s displeasure and also their abandonment of Him. It was not God Who abandoned His people, for in truth, He has always been with them despite their constant and persistent refusal to obey Him or listen to Him through the words of His many prophets. It was the people who chose to follow the path of sin and Satan’s lies rather than God’s truth.
Hence, Ezra offered before the Lord on behalf of the people a public admission of sinfulness and the deep remorse that they all had on the sins they had committed and which their ancestors had stubbornly done against the Lord and His loving kindness. Ezra pleaded with the Lord to restore His people and to show them once again the same love that He has always shown to them from the very beginning. In time to come, the Temple of God would be rebuild again in Jerusalem, under the supervision of Ezra and Nehemiah, another faithful servant of God entrusted with the care of the people.
Then, in our Gospel passage today we heard about the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of the world Whom God had sent into this world, the Son of God, Who sent His disciples forth, especially the Twelve, to whom He entrusted the power and authority to teach, to heal and to empower others, to bring to them the Good News of God’s truth and salvation. Through this, the Lord wants each and every one of us to know that, answering our petitions and supplications, our cries for His mercy and forgiveness, God has always ever loved us, and He has never abandoned us. On the contrary, He had done everything He could to gather us all and to reconcile us to Himself.
And through Christ, Who manifested to us the perfect and ultimate love of God, by His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross for our sake, for our salvation, all of us have seen the proof of just how fortunate and beloved we are. And we should indeed be thankful and happy that the Lord still thinks about us all the time, and is always ever concerned about us, for our redemption and return to Him. He wants us to be reunited with Him, and this is what each and every one of us should reflect on this day and onwards.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, have we lived our lives faithfully thus far as Christians? Have we truly followed the Lord wholeheartedly, or have we only had a shallow and superficial faith in Him? Have we lived our lives according to His way and truth, and have we heeded the words of those whom He had entrusted with our care, such as the Church, our bishops and our priests, as well as the wisdom of the saints and the prophets as contained in the Sacred Scriptures and the Church traditions and Magisterium?
If our answers to these are no, then we need to act now to change our lives for the better. We cannot be idle or ignorant anymore about how we live our faith from now on. On the contrary, we should do our best to commit ourselves to the Lord, and be great role models and inspiration for one another. Let us all commit ourselves thoroughly to the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ, and do whatever we can to follow the Lord and obey Him and His truth from now on. May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in our every good works and endeavours in His Name. Amen.