A very interesting story today in our first reading from Nehemiah 8. Ezra reads and interprets the word of God for the people. We’ll have more on that in a moment. In the Gospel reading from Luke 10, Jesus sends out the seventy-two in pairs to visit the towns and villages in advance of Him. If a town will not accept their word, they are to shake the dust of that town from their feet. Jesus says, “I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.” Interestingly, towns are filled with people.
Ezra reads from the book to the people “from daybreak until midday.” Can you imagine? Gee, we get upset when Father’s homily goes more than eight minutes! The Scripture tells us, “the people listened attentively.” But hearing God’s laws read and interpreted made the people weep. Perhaps they were taken by their own sinfulness. But Nehemiah and Ezra and the Levites tell the people that this is a day of celebration! “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” And so the people celebrated “with great joy, for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.”
I believe that the same can be true for us. The better we understand God’s law – the truth – the more we will rejoice! So many people grouse about Church teaching. They don’t agree with this or that, and it makes them miserable. If only we would take the time to truly understand that which Holy Mother Church teaches us. Not just rules and regulations, but the reasons behind why God’s laws are right and just. Then, like the people in today’s first reading, we, too can celebrate when we understand the words that have been expounded to us.
Father, help us to truly know Your word. Give us open minds and open hearts to truly understand Your teachings, that we might rejoice in them. Amen.
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