Zech 8:1-8; Ps 102:16-23; Lk 9:46-50
The Lord rebuilds us in every generation and in every nation just like he rebuilt Zion. The Lord appeared in his glory. He regarded the prayer of the destitute and despised not their prayers. Indeed, “The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.” In faithfulness and justice the Lord claimed the returned exiles to be his people and proclaimed that he was their God. Like the child in today’s gospel, the Liturgy places a holy lay person and a holy leader before the disciples, and we catch a glimpse of true greatness in his witness of childlike trust in the LORD. Saint Jerome used his tongue to praise the LORD and to argue with the enemies of the LORD. In his chosen exile for five years in the desert Saint Jerome admitted to Saint Eustochium that he struggled with his vision of dancing Roman maidens by fasting for weeks at a time and by watering the feet of the Crucified with his river of tears. In our joy and in our trials Saint Jerome summons us to surrender to the LORD and share in his passion, death, and resurrection.
The words of the prophet Zechariah reveal the intense jealousy of the Lord for Zion—for those who dwell in Jerusalem and live on the holy mountain. The Lord is stirred to jealous wrath for her. The Lord wants his people, and he will no longer tolerate their exile from the Promised Land. The prophet is able to see clearly what his fellow countrymen cannot see. Zachariah can envision the future glory of the holy city. He can see old men and women walking with staff in hand, and he foresees boys and girls playing in the streets of the holy city. Out of this prophetic vision Zachariah speaks, “Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also, says the LORD of hosts?” As it was next to impossible for the former exiles to see beyond their poverty and desperation, so too, it is impossible for us to see beyond the suffering that overwhelms us. In such struggles we need a prophetic voice to speak of things that seem impossible. As Zachariah was to the returned exiles, so too, Saint Wenceslaus is to us. When all we can do is make it from day to day, we need to find in each day the story of a soul seeking justice. Then we shall be God’s people, and he will be our God.
Again the disciples argue about which is the greatest, and again the Lord Jesus challenges them to look beyond their own ego and see the wisdom of God. The incarnation itself is the greatest act of humility. As Saint Paul reflects, the Lord Jesus was rich and he became poor so that through his poverty we might become rich. As Saint Luke reflects in today’s gospel, true greatness is to recognize the true value of human dignity even in the child. The law did not give children the full stature of an adult; children back then were not fully human beings. In the eyes of God and in the teaching of the Lord Jesus their human worth is recognized and held up as a reminder that all human dignity is a gift given by God from the very first moment of life. To emphasize this even more the Lord Jesus tells Saint John not to prevent anyone from casting out demons in his name. Even though the stranger does not belong to the fellowship of the disciples, he joins them in spirit and truth by sharing the mission of the Lord Jesus. By casting out demons and healing the sick many, not of our company, are for us not against us. Both children and even good pagans are held up as examples of the faithfulness and justice of our God. To this Eucharist we come, estranged by our sin and dependent in our childlikeness, to receive the gift of our true greatness—unity with, in, and through, Christ Jesus, our Lord and God.