Ez 1:1-6; Ps 126:1-6; Lk 8:16-18
Even among the nations, the pagan nations, all will say: “The Lord has done great things for them!” The captives of Zion had no idea, when they left the Promised Land, the Kingdom, the priesthood and the temple, that one day they would return rejoicing their mouth filled with laughter. These exiles could not have imagined that their captors would be overwhelmed and conquered. The Lord of Zion is the Lord of history. Though mighty and great, the Babylonian Empire was defeated by the Persians. Their hearts were filled with a new prayer, “Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the torrents in the southern desert.” Their eyes were filled with tears of gladness at the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia. To the utter amazement of the captives of Zion a pagan ruler would liberate them and send them home to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. All their dreaming in exile would be fulfilled and surpassed. Not only were they to rebuild their lives and their temple they were to be given all the help and support necessary to accomplish this great commission. As the Lord Jesus explained in today’s Gospel, what they seemed to have had been taken away and more was given to those who had nothing. Even though Israel was unfaithful to the Covenant, The LORD continued to be faithful. Even when we sin and turn away, The LORD is faithful and calls us back. His faithfulness inspires our thanksgiving sacrifice today and at every mass.
In fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah The LORD spoke to the heart of King Cyrus and commanded him to let his people go to rebuild their temple. So moved was the king that in word of mouth and in writing he commanded that everyone support the exiles with silver, gold, goods, cattle, and free-will offerings. This shocking good news inspired the captives of Zion to take heart and trust in the LORD of history. With great rejoicing these exiles heard the Word of the Lord, “Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people let him go up, and may his God be with him!” Our ancestors were slaves in Egypt, and The LORD heard their cry and liberated them. They were led by Moses to the Promised Land to live a life of holiness as a witness to all the nations that The LORD is a God of justice and holiness. Yet, they fell into great unfaithfulness; they did not reveal to the nations God’s holiness and justice. During the generations of their exile some of them repented and grew in holiness. These revealed the Lord’s holiness even in their captivity. This surprising virtue must have inspired their captors. This tiny witness must have reached the throne of God, and he inspired the king to send his people home to begin again. We, too, are inspired to trust the Lord in our captivity. The LORD will not leave us in our exile. We will be called through the events of history to rebuild our lives of holiness and shine like a lamp for all to see the glory of God.
The Lord Jesus teaches us that the lamp of faith is to be held high on a lampstand and not concealed or set under a bed. We are the light of the world for all nations to see the way to the new temple of God’s glory. By the brightness of our witness all people can see that a life of faith makes everything we do and say beautiful and glorious. We cannot have anything in this life without Christ. In Christ we live and move and have our being. In Christ all that we have is gift to be given away as freely as we have received it. Even the secret desires of our hearts will be exposed in the bright light of Christ. Even the sinful acts and desires of our hearts will be purified and transformed by the Lord Jesus. By our sincere repentance and growth in holiness we reveal the Lord’s faithful love and tender mercy freely given to all. Even our captors and oppressors cannot resist the light of Christ. “Take care, then, how you hear.” Those who think they control, even those hidden persuaders, will be exposed and overwhelmed by the glorious reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, the Word of God spoken by Jeremiah and all the prophets is being fulfilled in our midst in this celebration of the Eucharist. Here and now, we enter with tears of gladness to offer the perfect sacrifice of praise through Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest.