Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Ezra 1:1-6 + Luke 8:16-18
“‘…he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.’”
Tomorrow and the next two days, the First Reading comes from the Book of Ezra. To put this book into context within the Old Testament and within salvation history, at least two things ought to be kept in mind.
First, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are sometimes considered a single book because their focus is so similar. They fall within the latter half of the Old Testament section commonly called “the historical books”. The period of history these books deal with is sometimes called “the second Exodus”, not from exile in Egypt but from the Babylonian exile.
Second, the return of the Chosen People to the Holy Land at this time was different from the Mosaic Exodus in that His people were returning to a land that had previously built up. Chief among their works of reconstruction was the rebuilding of God’s Temple in Jerusalem. This is one focus of the First Reading today and tomorrow.
Specifically, today’s First Reading—the opening six verses of Ezra—relates how the Persian king Cyrus was the instrument of God’s will. This point might move us to reflect on the breadth of God’s holy Power amongst pagan culture, a reflection that might offer hope for our own day.