Day 272: The Call of Nehemiah

Nehemiah 1-13 Nehemiah’s story is much like Ezra’s: he was an official in the Persian court who, when grieved after receiving word of the dilapidated state of the Jewish homeland, received permission from the Persian king to return to Judah and begin the rebuilding process in Jerusalem. Nehemiah spearheaded the effort to rebuild the city walls and infrastructure of Jerusalem, while Ezra supervised the rebuilding of the Temple and the implementation of the Law.

Ch 1:1-11 Nehemiah understood immediately that the destruction of Jerusalem was a direct result of the sinfulness and infidelity of the People of God. His penance and mourning ran deep as he prayed for God’s mercy and for the reunification of all of Israel. (CCC 1739, 2448)

Ch 2:1-20 After four months of prayer, Nehemiah secured permission from the Persian king to rebuild Jerusalem. He also obtained letters from the king to the local governors enabling him to enter the city and to obtain the materials needed for the project. He met with some opposition but managed to get the officials in Jerusalem to assist with his plans. 

Zechariah 12:1-14 Speaking again of the restoration of Israel, the prophecy promised protection of Israel and victory over its enemies. The identity of the much-mourned deceased person is not clear-perhaps Zerubbabel or one of the other beloved figures-but the language certainly prefigures the Death of Christ.

Ch 12:10 Look upon...pierced: This messianic prophecy is also quoted in the Gospels (cf. Jn 19:37). The Passion and Death of Christ is sufficient to atone for all sin and make available the salvation of every person. This dazzling display of love typified by his pierced side should move every individual to profound conversion. (CCC 1432, 2561)

Ch 13:1 The fountain is an image of cleansing and purification. The proper response to God’s love and desire to forgive unconditionally is a motive for repentance and interior reform. Cleansing water is a type of the Sacrament of Baptism by which Original Sin and actual sins are washed away. (CCC 694, 1219, 1262, 2345, 2561)

Ch 13:2-6 Once cleansed, Judah needed to reject all forms of idolatry and seek the help of the one true God only.

Ch 13:7-9 The shepherd here may be symbolic of Zerubbabel or of Zechariah’s “shepherd of the flock” in Chapter 11. This passage was cited by Christ regarding how his disciples would abandon him upon his arrest: “Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered” (cf. Mt 26:31; Mk 14:27; Jn 10:30-31).

One third shall be left alive: here is another reference to a faithful remnant of Israel, for many would not be able to endure the trials ahead.  

Proverbs 20:20 This warning expresses the gravity of failing to honor one’s parents according to the Fourth Commandment. Christ’s deference to his parents, even as an adult, is an example of how this Commandment is fulfilled (cf. Jn 2:1-11). (CCC 2197-2220)

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

Nehemiah and Rebuilding the City Walls

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much. Thank you for this day. Thank you for Day 272. Thank you for guiding us and being with us. Thank you for inspiring us and giving us the Grace to be able to keep pressing play. Lord God, gosh, thank you for the blessings of this day. Thank you also, Lord God, for the hidden blessings of this day as we continue to pray. Open our eyes that we can see the blessings that we often just pass by. Those things that we’ve seen them so often that they are now unseen. Those things in our lives that we would never immediately consider blessings but ultimately, upon reflection, they are helping us become more like you, they are helping us become closer to you. Lord God, we ask you this day also, not only to receive our prayers, receive our praise, receive our thanks, but also those people that we love, receive them into your heart. Those people who have wandered far from you, Lord God, we ask you to please send out your Grace to be upon them. Those people who we love and are far from you, those people that we don’t love like we should, send your Grace upon their hearts and their lives as well, Lord God, today. Bless those who have hurt us. Bless those who hate us. Help us to love them the way that you love them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”