Day 270: God's Favor with Ezra

Ezra 7:1-26 Ezra, a priest in the line of Aaron and an expert in Jewish Law who served as a civil authority for Persia, was sent by King Artaxerxes II to teach and enforce the Law in Judah. He was given sweeping powers over the enforcement of the Law and the support of the Temple. The “Law” refers to the five books of the Pentateuch, which include the vast body of moral, dietary, and ceremonial laws given to the people by God through Moses. These books contain the contents of God’s covenant with his Chosen People. God was absolutely faithful to this covenant, regardless of all the violations by the people of Israel over the centuries. (CCC 702, 709)

Ch 7:27-28 Blessed be the Lord: We bless the Lord when we show gratitude and give him praise for the many gifts he lavishes upon us. However, the greatest way of giving God glory is to fulfill his will. (CCC 2026-2028)

Ch 8:1-30 The book turns to a first-person narrative from the mouth of Ezra himself. The journey of the returning exiles was undertaken almost as a pilgrimage in a spirit of trust in the Lord for his protection together with a deep awareness of the sacredness of their mission. The exile and the return of the Judeans would result in a more reformed and spiritually renewed people since the exile indeed can be seen as a purification from their many infidelities. (CCC 710, 1081)

Zechariah 7:1-14 After the Babylonians destroyed the Temple in 587 BC, it was decreed that all of Israel should observe a fast on the anniversary of its destruction to remember that terrible day. Now that the reconstruction of the Temple had begun, there were many exiles still in Babylon who were not sure whether they should continue the annual fast. They brought this question before the Temple priests and prophets, but they did not get an immediate answer. The prophet Zechariah, however, stressed that the mass exile was a consequence of sin, and reparation through fasting was still needed.

Ch 7:8-10 Oppression of the poor, widows, and strangers were cited frequently and elicited strong rebukes among the prophets since care for the downtrodden was an important component of the Mosaic Law.

In the heart: The heart expresses the deepest sentiments of a person’s being, the “seat of moral personality” where the fundamental choices of following the ways of God or disregarding them are made. (CCC 1867, 2419, 2448)

Ch 8:1-23 Zechariah answered the question about fasting with ten prophecies. The first five reiterated how God would dwell in Jerusalem and reunite his people and grant them peace. The next five prophecies encouraged the building of the Temple and the practice of the moral law. They prescribed fasting and proclaimed Israel as the hope of the world. Israel received high praise since the Savior of the world would come directly from out of the Chosen People. (CCC 846, 1811)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Restoration of the Twelve Tribes

Ezra and Teaching the Torah

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Key Event 50: Ezra Returns and Teaches (Ezra 7:1-8:36)

As the people return from exile, the priest Ezra helps revitalize the people's commitment to the Torah, God's Law given through Moses.  Ezra recognizes that the exile is a consequence of Israel's unfaithfulness, so calling the people to repentance is critical to experiences God's blessing in the land after exile.

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you so much, God. You are good and you love us and, gosh, how easy is it for us, God, to be numb to your love? You love us so well, you love us so consistently, you love us faithfully. And how easy is it for us to be indifferent to your love? Lord, help us to seek your love, to be aware of it, to be conscious of it, to notice it, to receive it, this day and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”