25th Week in Ordinary Time
Ezra 9:5-9; (Psalm) Tobit 13:2-4, 7-8; Luke 9:1-6
Mercy came to us from the Lord. (Ezra 9:8)
Ezra was a priest and scribe during the time when the Jewish people were rebuilding Jerusalem after many long years in exile. Through Ezra’s ministry, the people came together and recommitted themselves to their covenant with God. No longer would they follow after false idols! They would once more be the people God had called them to be.
Just before today’s reading, Ezra receives news that many of the people have been marrying foreigners—pagans—which was against the Law of Moses. Devastated at this latest setback, he turns to the Lord and asks for his help. But Ezra doesn’t jump right in and make his petition. Instead, he recounts all the ways God has been merciful in the past. He talks about how the people’s sins have led them to the humiliation of their exile, and he recalls how God has brought them back home. He doesn’t let the people remain in their lowly state. He forgives them and gives them a second chance. And now, Ezra prays that God will give them yet another chance. He begs the Lord to forgive them again and pour his grace upon them, despite all they haved done wrong.
What a model of trust in the mercy of God! Ezra shows that it’s okay to turn to the Lord again and again and again. We may feel wretched because of what we have done, even to the point of not wanting to confess our sins. We may fear a spiritual tongue-lashing or condemnation. But that’s not how the Lord works. In a homily last spring, Pope Francis spoke of the true grace of Confession:
“Go to Jesus. He would be happy if you told him! He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you, and he says to you: ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more.’ That is the only counsel he gives you. After a month, if we are in the same situation, let us go back to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving.”
“Thank you, Father, for your endless mercy. Help me never to shy away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Help me instead to see it as a precious instrument of your love and healing!” ~WAU