Sep 26, 2023
(Ezra 9:5-9; Tb.13:1-4,6-8; Lk.9:1-6)
“Turn back, you sinners! do the right before Him:
perhaps He may look with favor upon you, and show you mercy.”
As the Word of the Lord comes to our villages and enters our houses, we must treasure it and heed its warning to turn from our sins. If we harden our hearts against its grace and mercy, if we fail to recognize our sin in the blessed light it brings, the Word shall leave, shaking the dust from its feet, and we shall be left alone in despair. But if we turn toward the light it brings and turn from our sins, we shall be saved – we shall be healed of all our afflictions.
How wonderfully Ezra humbles himself before the Lord our God, pouring out his soul and the sins of the people of Israel: “Our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven.” For so often have the people sinned, so often have they turned from Him who chose them as His own… and even here, now that they have been returned from exile by the miraculous grace of God working through Persian kings, now that the Lord has given them “new life to raise again the house of [their] God and restore its ruins,” even now they have sinned again.
It is only the love of Jesus, brothers and sisters, and the grace that pours forth through His apostles, which will bring us to the “reign of God.” Only He can heal our souls and only He can lift us from the mire of this world – only in His kingdom will we find perfection with God our Father. This alone must we seek. This certainly we must accept with open arms when it comes to us by the grace of our Lord. For, indeed, we know that though we have fallen into “the great abyss,” though He may have cast us “down to the depths of the netherworld” for our sins, “He has shown [us] His greatness” and lifted our heads up to look upon His face – He has redeemed our race.
So let us rejoice this day “in the King of heaven” and “speak of His majesty,” for in our guilt the Lord visits us, He sends forth His Word to heal us. He has given the Twelve and their successors “power and authority to overcome all demons and to cure diseases,” so let us welcome their touch and turn from our sins to receive the favor upon us, to find His mercy at work in our midst.
O LORD, lead me forth in the peace of your presence –
restore our ruined house;
heal all our disease.
YHWH, you grant mercy to our souls. Though we be cast down to the nether world for all our sins, you send forth your apostles to overcome all demons and cure us of our diseases; you raise our heads to look upon your face. And so, what should we do but praise you with full voice?
Continually we falter, LORD; repeatedly your people fall back into sin. But ever you call us to turn from our wickedness that we might find your favor again. In your Son you make this mercy complete, and we find it now at work in your Church. Let us receive well the Word that comes to us and so approach your kingdom.
What have you not done for us, O LORD. Even the hearts of the kings of this earth you have turned to our cause to assist us in rebuilding your Temple. All is in your hands, Almighty God! Redeem us from captivity to walk in freedom with you at our side.