Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ezra 6:7-8.12b.14-20; Luke 8:19-21)
In 515 B.C., the returned exiles from Babylon dedicated the second Temple or Temple of Zerubbabel. It is said to have been of the same dimensions as Solomon’s magnificent edifice but completely lacking the latter’s luxury. Nevertheless, it served for five hundred years the need of the Jews to express their appreciation of the Lord with sacrifices.
Today’s first reading gives a little detail of the second Temple’s day of dedication. There is a sense of relief that the structure is finally completed after taking more than twenty years since work first began. The carnage of animal sacrifice is significant, but even more impressive is the ordering of priests and Levites. Back in their places of offering sacrifice and speaking on behalf of God, the priests once more give to the people a sense of the divine presence.
Catholics have two orders of priesthood – a common priesthood and an ordained one. All the baptized can offer worthy prayers to God because they partake of Christ. Nevertheless, it is the sacrifice of Christ on the cross re-presented by the ordained in the Eucharist that brings the most intimate union with the divine.