“Father, you are holy indeed and all creation rightly
gives you praise.
All life, all holiness comes from you so that from the rising of
the sun to its setting a perfect offering may be made to the glory
of your name.”
Eucharistic Prayer III [My translation]
The beautiful hymn of praise that begins Eucharistic Prayer III
might give us pause today to remember. What do we need to remember?
Well, go back to that last part of the Zechariah reading and think
about New Orleans and Mississippi. Exiles are at least trying to
return home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They come “from
the land of the rising sun and from the land of the setting sun.”
Their exile has only lasted a few weeks. Yet hasn’t the suffering
of the poor touched us all? How compelling!
Yet, how difficult! Many return to amazing devastation, coming back
to find their homes flooded or unfit for living. They make their
way back to towns to the chorus of governmental promises to rebuild
the city. They enter places where wounds of racial inequality are
still fresh. They return with little more than promises that they
are to place their hope in.
Now, recall that Second Isaiah and Zechariah both promised that
God would return the exiles and would rebuild the city and temple.
“They shall be my people and I will be their God.”
When those exiles returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, it was a
sign of reconciliation. God, who had cast off his people now welcomes
them back home. It was a sign of divine might. It was God alone
who brought the people back after their exile.
At that time prophets like Jeremiah railed against the oppression
of the widows, the poor, and the weak. The exile was to be a ‘cleansing’
of society and religious practice. The reconciliation God made with
the remnant was meant to effect the making of a new society based
on proper religious practice and justice in the land.
So, on those Sundays when we hear that beginning of Eucharistic
Prayer III, remember. God brings exiles like you and me home to
feast around the table. We celebrate that in liturgy and consummate
it in communion where we receive a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
And, remember that the reconciliation we celebrate with God at Mass
orients us to live in our world with justice.
Let us pray that we see that happen in the Gulf Region. Let us seek
to be part of a more just society.