Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezra6:7-8.12b.14-20; Luke 8:19-21)

Catholic author George Weigel contrasts the culture that built Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with the one that erected the Grande Arche in the same city. The first structure -- intricate and subtle – is a testimony of the faith of the late Middle Ages when people collaborated for the common good under divine tutelage. In contrast, the Arche’s imposing simpleness testifies to modernity’s attempt to establish justice without God based on the freedom of each person to do as he or she wills. The superiority of the former structure enlightens the first reading today.

Darius, like Cyrus in yesterday’s reading, is said to recognize Israel’s God. Both emperors provide secular testimony to the Lord’s greatness. According to the Book of Ezra, Darius even ordains that the taxes of a portion of his empire fund the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. The project will not only provide Jews a place of worship but will also give their culture a center. It will foster the wisdom with which God endows His people.

Although religion is not to be imposed on anyone, we must not relegate it to the home. We need beautiful churches to both glorify God and promote human achievement.