Thursday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Nehemiah 8:1-4a.5-6.7b-12; Luke 10:1-12)
Almost a year ago the United States was enthralled by a freshly told story of Abraham Lincoln. Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln astounded the nation by the portrayal of the sixteenth president’s righteousness and integrity, his political acumen and his patriotism. The movie no doubt invoked many tears as it showed the depth of sacrifice made by the country’s greatest statesman. A very similar dynamic is at work in the first reading today.
The scribe-priest Ezra stands up before the people to read Israel’s Law. He is not reciting a code of rules but the history of the people’s salvation. He reads of Abraham and Jacob, of Moses and Pharaoh. But most of all, Ezra tells of God’s care for Israel. He recounts how God gave Abraham and Sarah a child when the couple had lost hope of descendants. And how He rescued the Israelites from servitude in Egypt and formed them into a community worthy of His name. No wonder that the people want to cry!
Christians can claim the story of the Patriarchs and the Exodus as their own, but we have an even greater love story to contemplate. We speak of Jesus, God’s own son, who took on human form so that we might know God’s definitive will and be strengthened to do it. We too weep at the boldness of God’s compassion on us and can never give Him enough thanks.