Day 279: Blessings and Burdens
Nehemiah 11:1 As the Jews returned to their homeland, they resettled Jerusalem and the greater land of Judah. It was a joyous occasion accompanied by prayers and singing as the wall of Jerusalem was solemnly dedicated. (CCC 2580)
Esther 8:1-12 Under Persian Law, the edicts of the king could not be revoked. Ahasuerus, however, had Mordecai fill the lofty position left by Haman. The king then had Mordecai write a second edict in his name authorizing the Jews to defend themselves against those who came to destroy them.
Ch 16:1-24 [Greek] The eloquent text prepared by Mordecai not only sanctioned the Jews’ self-defense but also directed praise toward the Jewish people and recounted the evil deed and intent of Haman. In doing so, the edict, while not rescinding the previous order, very strongly implied that Ahasuerus was not in favor of the destruction of the Jews. Moreover, Ahasuerus practically became an advocate for the God of Israel and for protection under the law for Jews.
Ch 8:13-17 The new edict was greeted by the Jews with great joy and celebration.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Ok be honest….how many of you skip ahead to the readings instead of listening to Fr. Mike asking you to subscribe?
So a brief recap of Nehemiah Ch 11, shall we?
There is an honor to be able to live in Jerusalem
So 1 in 10 people are going to live in the Holy City and they will cast lots to see who gets to live there
The rest of them will remain in their other towns
There is both goodness and badness to this
To live in the Holy City is kind of a big deal
To live in your ancestral land is also a pretty significant thing
So we have the list of the people
Remember earlier on in Ezra and Nehemiah, they had such good records of those families and of the heads of father’s houses and their land
It’s really really important for them to be able to say, “If we don’t know who these people are, then they might not get possession of the land. In fact, if we don’t know for sure that they are Levites, if there is no proof that they are descendants of Aaron then they aren’t allowed to serve in the Temple.”
There is something about an actual pedigree
There is something about ancestral gifts
Out of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, everyone was given something
It wasn’t necessarily GOOD or BAD or BETTER or WORSE
IT WAS ALL GOOD
IT WAS BLESSING
So we have a sense of where you come from really really leads to, in so many ways, where we end up
Obviously, the story we have walked with for 279 days is one of BROKENNESS and one of BETRAYAL
People are sometimes GREAT with the gifts they have been given
People are sometimes FOOLISH with the gifts they have been given
People are sometimes WICKED with the gifts they have been given
The idea of PEDIGREE for a lot of us living in a broken world is that we DISLIKE IT SO MUCH
Especially if we live in the West we think, “No, regardless of what my parents have done, regardless of what my grandparents have done, I can make my own way.”
This is actually BIBLICAL!!
Remember, the prophets had said very very clearly, “You are not to be judged for your parents sins. You are not to be rewarded for your parents' virtues.”
There is also contrary Scriptures that talk about the curses that would go for three or four generations and the blessings that would go for a thousand generations
This is a PARADOX
This is NOT a DICHOTOMY
DICHOTOMY means that both sides are fighting against each other
PARADOX is BOTH & AND
You get to chart your course
AT THE SAME TIME WE BELONG TO A FAMILY
AT THE SAME TIME YOU ARE NOT NECESSARILY DEFINED BY YOUR FAMILY
OUR FAMILY CONTRIBUTES TO WHO WE ARE
AT THE SAME TIME WE GET TO BREAK FREE FROM THE EVIL PATTERNS OF OUR FAMILY OR EVEN IF OUR FAMILIES WERE VIRTUOUS WE HAVE TO CHOOSE VIRTUE TOO
WE CAN’T JUST INHERIT THEIR VIRTUE
So in Nehemiah Ch 11, the people have the ability to move back to their ancestral homes
This is going to be VERY VERY IMPORTANT
Because of the two reasons Fr. Mike is trying to spell out
A. --->You have an ancestral home because you have ANCESTORS….kind of a big deal
At the same time, will you move back to the ancestral home?
Will you build upon that land?
Will you create a life there?
So here’s the thing
What I receive from my ancestors, the pedigree part, is a gift
It can also be a burden
Obviously everyone who is part of a family knows that
But what we have in our hands, what we get given to us, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH IT ON OUR OWN?<-----I FIGURED IT OUT!! THIS IS PART B.!! 🤓
So here’s the connection and hopefully it makes sense…(Ok to me, Fr. Mike is sounding like the adults in the Charlie Brown Peanuts comics today 🤪)
We have been GIVEN SO MUCH
BOTH BURDENS AND BLESSINGS
BY OUR ANCESTORS, BY OUR FAMILIES
THAT IS THE PEDIGREE PART!!
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH THOSE BLESSINGS?
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH THOSE BURDENS?
THAT IS THE INDIVIDUAL PART!! (Oh thank God, I think the INDIVIDUAL PART is the PART B that Fr. Mike never got around to designating back above when he started with part A….whew….right? I mean, that makes sense doesn’t it? 🤔 My brain hurts now…)
Every single one of us has been that responsibility and blessing in some way, shape, or form
Every single one of us has been given that responsibility and burden in some way, shape, or form
We get to decide
We get to CHOOSE
Onward to Esther
Esther saves the Jews!
King Ahasuerus doesn’t undo the decree of Haman
He doesn’t say, “Nevermind what Haman said.”
He says, “I decree that every one of the Jews will be able to rally together and fight off anyone that tries to kill them that day.”
THAT IS CLEVER!!
THAT IS KINDA BRILLIANT!!
King Ahasuerus was not a good guy
But he was a pretty clever guy
He basically says, “I can’t go back on an edict that’s already been declared in my name. So here’s the deal. I’ll make a second edict that will say, ‘Hey Jews, heads up. On the day where people are going to come after you, band together and you can fight back. And when you kill them, you can have all their stuff.”
FASCINATING PART OF THIS STORY!!
Not only that…
But we have this FESTIVAL DAY that is described as the THIRTEENTH DAY OF THE TWELFTH MONTH OF ADAR
We will find out more about that in Esther Ch 9
It’s the FEAST OF PURIM
What a great festival of the Jews being saved by the intercession of this incredible woman, Esther
In the midst of her anguish and powerlessness, she ALLOWED GOD TO WORK
Because of her GREAT COURAGE
Because of her GREAT FAITH
And the LOVE OF THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB
Hopefully this has been a BLESSED DAY for you!!
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and thank you. We thank you for justice. We thank you for vindication. We thank you for all the ways in which your Providence and in your love for us, you make things right. Lord God, we know that in the fullness of time you will set all things right. You will set all things as they ought to be and these stories of Nehemiah and these stories of Esther are just a foreshadowing of the way in which you will restore justice and bring justice to the world. Lord God today, this day, bring justice to our lives. Bring reconciliation and healing to our relationships. And above all, Lord God, bring yourself to us and bring us to yourself. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”