Rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)
What a wonderful occasion! After decades of exile, the people of Israel finally heard the Law of the Lord proclaimed in a holy ceremony. Special preparations had been made for the festive day, from the rich food and drinks right down to the distinctive platform Ezra used to read out the Law.
So why did the people start weeping when they heard Ezra proclaim God’s word? Why did the Levites have to go through the crowd trying to calm people down? Because they began to feel overwhelmed and discouraged by the gap between the life Ezra was describing and the life they had been living. They saw how distant from the Lord they had become, and they began to grieve.
It was only after the Levites’ words of encouragement that the people saw God’s Law as something more than a burden meant to condemn them. It was a precious gift that revealed not only the justice of God, but his faithful love and mercy as well. They helped the people see that if God had given them the Law, then surely he would give them the grace to live it out!
Isn’t that just how God is? We get bound up in guilt and shame, and he comes alongside us to lift our burdens. We worry about all that we won’t be able to accomplish, and he reminds us that we can do all things in him. We fret over our past failures, and he reminds us that he has cast our sins away as far as the east is from the west.
How many times have you felt uncomfortable going to Mass or Confession because you don’t want to face up to something that is lacking in your life? Don’t ever let that happen again! Remember the Levites and their words to the people of Israel. Make it a point to rejoice in your salvation, and let that joy give you all the strength and freedom you need!
“Father, I know I am your child. Thank you for calling me into your family!”
Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Bendigo in the Central Goldfields