The Return of the Exiles
- Reading I: Ezra 1:1-6
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 126
- Gospel Reading: Luke 8:16-18
Back to Jerusalem!
The selection taken from the beginning of the book of Ezra is about the edict of Cyrus the Great regarding the return of the exiled Jews to Judah and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The story is narrated as "salvation history" that is, as a marvellous deed God has done for His people. The responsorial psalm celebrates this episode in the history of Judah.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
The Babylonian Exile (586-538 BC) has ended thanks to Cyrus the Great, and the Jews can begin anew.
The Babylonian Captivity and the subsequent return to Israel were seen as one of the pivotal events in the biblical drama between Yahweh and his people of Israel. Just as they had been predestined for, and saved from, slavery in Egypt, in the logic of the Bible it had been prophesied that the Israelites would go into captivity to the Babylonians for their idolatry and disobedience to Yahweh, and then be delivered once more. The Babylonian Captivity had a number of serious effects on Judaism and the Jewish culture. For example, the current Hebrew script was adopted during this period, replacing the traditional Israelite script. This period saw the last high-point of Biblical prophecy in the person of Ezekiel, followed by the emergence of the central role of the Torah in Jewish life; according to many historical-critical scholars, it was edited and redacted during this time, and saw the beginning of the canonization of the Bible, which provided a central text for Jews.
More about the Babylonian Captivity at WikiPedia
More on Cyrus the Great of Persia
- Farsinet: Persian Kings in the Bible
- WikiPedia: Cyrus the Great
- Crosswalk: Cyrus King of Persia
- Cyrus: God’s Anointed
- British Museum: Cyrus King of Persia
- History of Iran: Cyrus the Great (580-529 BC)
- Apologetics Press: Cyrus the Great
Take Heed What You Hear
The reading follows upon the Parable of the Seed and the Sower (Luke 8:4-15). In these passages, Luke follows the order already set in Mark 4:21-25), but omits Mark’s verse 24 [a passage which Luke employs in two other places of his Gospel]. The words of Jesus once comprehended must be allowed to shine forth. Those in the educational sector would recognize in here the idea that the cognitive must pass on to the psychomotor level. Church language speak of witnessing, living out the Word. Here, Luke, following Mark, employs the image of the lamp. It would be totally nonsensical if the lamp is not allowed to shine. The Words of Jesus is like a flame that lights up the lamp from within; those who have accepted that flame must allow its radiance to break forth where it is needed (e.g. a darkened room).
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