The Precepts of the Lord Give Joy to the Heart.
The Twenty-Sixth Thursday of Ordinary Time.
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Nehemiah 8: 1-12.
• Psalm 19: 8-11.
• Luke 10: 1-12.
The Third Class Feast of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin & Doctor of the Church.*
Lessons from the proper, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Isaiah 66: 12-14.
• [Gradual] Matthew 11: 15.
• Matthew 18: 1-4.
2:44 PM 10/3/2019 — It was exactly one week ago that we had read from the Book of Haggai, and the day before that from Ezra. The background to these events in important: the Jews had pretty much lost their faith during the years spent in captivity in Babylon, and when they were set free by King Cyrus of Persia and returned to Jerusalem, they found the Temple in ruins. Wrestling with the question of rebuilding the Temple, Ezra alone knew that there would be no point to doing it if the people had no faith to practice there, so he and all these minor prophets whose books we are reading from are all calling the people back to their faith.
Today’s first lesson is the climax, more or less, as Ezra reads to the people from the Law of Moses which they had so long ago forgotten. Hearing it, they are reminded of everything God had done for them over the centuries, and are filled with remorse for their sins and begin to weep, but Ezra and Nehemiah exhort them to rejoice and celebrate instead, because they have rediscovered that which gave them their identity as a people.
“The Law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul…” (Psalm 19: 8 RM3) we heard in today’s Psalm, to which we all responded, “The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.”
You might find the comparison strained, but our society today is very much like the Jews newly released from captivity: confused, aimless, feeling without purpose or direction, not knowing what to do, where they’re going or even where they’ve been.
But just as the Jews of Ezra’s time found new hope in a faith long ago forgotten, so can we, and offer that faith and that hope to others along the way. That, perhaps, is the silver lining to all confusing and difficult times: that they cause people to raise their eyes up from the mundane and temporary things of this world to gaze upon heavenly realities. It helps us to put the personal crosses we all carry into perspective, and renews our appreciation for the things that truly matter.
Let us ask our Blessed Lord today to shower down His graces upon all those who suffer in either mind or body, and take into our hearts the words spoken by the Levites: “Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened” (Neh. 8: 11 RM3).
* Cf. the homily for October 1st regarding Saint Thérèse.