Today’s readings took me in a different direction each time returned to them.
I had an easier time with the reading from Ezra before I read it in context. Initially I saw it as an Old Testament version of St. Paul talking about the demons inside.
Looking back to the preceding passage I discovered the great transgression which Ezra was discussing was intermarriage. I remember when I called my parents to let them know that I was getting married. The first questions that my mother asked were “Is she Catholic?”, “What is her nationality?” and “Does she speak English?” (Although the answers from my new Swiss Catholic fiancé who was living in England pleased my mother who was of Swiss descent, I have a feeling that I will have a different set of questions when I get the equivalent phone call from my son.) I can understand Ezra’s context, but I find other threats to our connection with our God which are more pressing in today’s world.
I prefer reading the passage from Ezra as a lesson in the importance of maintaining our character. The distractions in our world have taken a different form. We can be led astray by the world we live in. We are easily pulled away from what is important. When distracted it is not hard to lose focus. Ezra talks of the “remnant”, those who have maintained their character. We are confronted on the large scale. How do we respond collectively as a society? I find it difficult to discern where our candidates for public office really stand and who is credible. Identifying “true” character is a challenge when I see to what extent public images are manipulated. I even question requests from charitable organizations as I receive requests from professional telemarketers. On a daily basis I find challenges to the “remnant” from commercial advertising that almost always tries to seduce our society with the attractiveness of the superficial and transient. (My son turned twenty-one this week. I trust that his character will not be altered by his new freedom. He faces challenges that are much more explicit than I faced at a similar age.)
The Gospel follows with a missioning and a call for detachment from the things of this world. Jesus is summoning his followers to continue his work. He is calling them to be part of the “remnant”. He is asking for trust, but even more He is drawing his followers’ focus to the tasks and trials at hand and away from the distractions of the world.
My prayer today is for support in our quest. I pray for the Lord’s assistance in maintaining character both as an individual and as a society. I ask for the desire of the things that are worth desiring.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook