Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ezra 1:1-6; Luke 8:16-18)
Tension reigns today between Iran (modern Persia) and Israel (the Jewish state that incorporates most of the former Kingdoms of Judah and of Israel). President Ahmadinejah of Iran has made threatening remarks against the Israeli regime. Meanwhile, President Netanyahu of Israel proverbially talks softly but carries a big, big stick – nuclear weapons!
The first reading from the Book of Ezra reminds us that relations between the two nations were not always strained. In fact, with a long history of association, Iran and Israel have shared many ups and downs. The peak, recounted in the reading from Ezra today, sees King Cyrus of Persia promoting the reestablishment of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jerusalemites have been living as exiles in Babylonia for seventy years when Cyrus liberated them.
Christians may consider this return of the Jews to Jerusalem as a type or preview of Jesus’ going up to the holy city at the end of his ministry. His death and resurrection there will establish a new Temple constructed not of stones but of his flesh and blood. In his temple people will give the most fitting praise to God. That praise today would be incomplete, however, if it is not accompanied by a plea for peace among the rival nations.