First reading at Holy Mass today moves the heart to exultation. Ezra acknowledged before God that the Israelites deserved their bitter exile from the Holy Land, because of their sins. But now God has, in His mercy, restored a remnant of the people to their homeland. They can build the second Temple. They can worship the one, true God without fear.
So the Old Covenant continued, after the Babylonian exile, marching toward its fulfillment. Then the Christ came, the son of a second-Temple Jew, the Blessed Virgin Mary. And, as we read in our gospel reading today, He sent His Apostles to found the Church in every city and town. The New Covenant changed the direction of holy worship. It no longer involves going up to Jerusalem. Rather, from Jerusalem the new and eternal covenant now extends out, to the ends of the earth.
As Ezra put it, “God has brightened our eyes” with a place to worship Him. We have our parish churches, sanctuaries in which we can celebrate the rite which the God-man instituted, when He walked the earth in the flesh.
Ezra did not take it for granted. Let’s not take it for granted, either. Let’s give the Lord our thanks, that we have a church, in spite of our own sins. And let’s honor those who have gone before us, whose sacrifices made it possible for us to celebrate Christ’s sacraments in peace.
Let’s follow in our forebears’ footsteps. Let’s try to prove ourselves worthy of their sacrifices, rejoicing in the Lord and thinking of those who will come after us.