The first reading reminds us
how important it is for us—
not only as individuals but also as a community—
to hear the Word of God.
Many parishioners say they wish they knew more
about the Scriptures.
Well, one opportunity is daily Mass.
Also, I have a Bible study
almost every Wednesday evening—
I say, almost, because this Wednesday
I won’t be there—but every other Wednesday.
We meet in the Caserta Center at St. Boniface.
Anyone, any age is welcome.
If you want to do study on your own,
I listed some resources in the bulletin.
It is not only important to hear the Word of God,
but also to respond.
In that first reading, when they heard God’s Law,
they bowed down, and wept.
Why? Because they remembered
all God had done for them,
and how far they had wandered.
Yet God did not forget them—
he brought them back!
As they made a fresh start, Ezra and Nehemiah
reminded them what we prayed, today, in the psalm:
God’s Word is spirit and life!
When we set aside God’s Word,
we go sour—our society goes sour.
As many of us know,
Monday marks the anniversary,
of the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade.
The consequences of that have been terrible.
Over 40 million tiny lives lost in this country;
many other countries have followed our example;
and untold numbers of men and women
have also been scarred by this.
Monday, I will be in Washington, D.C.,
along with some of our parishioners,
including some Lehman students.
Along with many others,
we will do, for our time,
what Ezra and Nehemiah did, in theirs:
Calling our nation back
to the life-giving ways of God!
Some say that goes too far—
that while we may regret what the court did,
we should leave the law as it is,
and just be “personally opposed.”
Last week, we celebrated Martin Luther King Day.
I don’t know what Dr. King said about abortion;
but I do know that he was never
merely “personally opposed”
to segregation, and lynching, and violence!
He knew what the Gospel said:
that the Spirit of the Lord anoints and sends us
“to bring glad tidings to the poor…
liberty to captives…
recovery of sight to the blind,”
and “to let the oppressed go free.”
Dr. King did not wait for the Lord to do it.
The Lord anointed Dr. King, with many others,
and they changed our nation for the better!
You and I have the same task today.
Yes, this is our moral duty as Catholics—
it’s not a choice.
The Spirit impels us to protest the present situation,
and to change things, including our laws!
We do it with our words and example,
with prayer, with peaceful protest,
by supporting alternatives,
outreach to women in desperate situations,
bringing healing to those
who have been wounded,
and yes, we take political action and we vote.
Some say, there are many “life issues.”
That is true.
But this is clearly one of them—not optional.
I mentioned providing healing to the wounded.
Many women and men suffer terribly and silently.
You and I, with simple kindness and encouragement,
can bring liberty to those in a terrible bondage.
Again—see the bulletin for information
about Project Rachel, which offers healing and hope.
When Ezra and Nehemiah challenged their people
they did weep, when they realized how far they’d strayed.
And yet they said to the people,
Do not weep—this a holy moment, a time of joy!
When the Holy Spirit challenges us,
He also gives us the power to respond and change.
And that is reason to rejoice.
When you and I put faith in Jesus Christ;
when we come to the sacraments, to confession,
to the Eucharist—he fills us with his Spirit—
and that is joy—and that will be our strength.
(Resources mentioned in the bulletin:
* The Navarre Bible. A series of in-depth commentaries on the Bible, several volumes.
* Ignatius Study Bible. Also a series, on various books of the Bible. Not all books of the Bible covered, yet.
* The Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. An online resource, by Scott Hahn. Free! http://www.salvationhistory.com/)