5 October 2017
When the seventh month came, all the people gathered as one man on the square before the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses which the Lord had prescribed for Israel. Accordingly Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, consisting of men, women, and children old enough to understand. This was the first day of the seventh month. On the square before the Water Gate, in the presence of the men and women, and children old enough to understand, he read from the book from early morning till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden dais erected for the purpose; beside him stood, on his right, Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; on his left, Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. In full view of all the people – since he stood higher than all the people – Ezra opened the book; and when he opened it all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people raised their hands and answered, ‘Amen! Amen!’; then they bowed down and, face to the ground, prostrated themselves before the Lord. (Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabab, Hanan, Pelaiah, who were Levites, explained the Law to the people while the people remained standing.) And Ezra read from the Law of God, translating and giving the sense, so that the people understood what was read.
Then (Nehemiah – His Excellency – and) Ezra, priest and scribe (and the Levites who were instructing the people) said to all the people, ‘This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not be mournful, do not weep.’ For the people were all in tears as they listened to the words of the Law.
He then said, ‘Go, eat the fat, drink the sweet wine, and send a portion to the man who has nothing prepared ready. For this day is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad: the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.’ And the Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be at ease; this is a sacred day. Do not be sad.’ And all the people went off to eat and drink and give shares away and begin to enjoy themselves since they had understood the meaning of what had been proclaimed to them.
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’
We wipe off the very dust
What gets you around the business community or let yourself be known around a particular industry is not about what you know, but it is all about who you know. Ever since our childhood days in school, we form friendships based on interest, or because of sitting next to each other in the classroom and many other varied reasons. A kid may have wanted to be part of the ‘in-crowd’, to be able to associate with the coolest kid in school. He would go back to school on Monday, to tell everyone that he was invited to Ryan’s birthday over the weekend. We already know the importance of having associations since young and the kind of people which we would like to be associated with may change at different stages in our life.
In today’s gospel, Jesus sends his followers out to make peace with the people in the towns. He sent them to find out who has the willing heart to welcome the greetings given by Him and that will be an acceptance by that household being associated with God. Being Catholics, we are associated with our Father since baptism. We always have the choice of breaking this relationship however, if we choose not to accept the ‘peace’, we deny our association with the Father, and we will probably be missing out on what the kingdom of God is like. Then, we will not be part of the ‘coolest gang in school’. Our Lord is not a forceful person; when one does not appreciate the peace and love brought into his home, He breaks off an association with them, wiping off the very dust at the door.
I am proud to be associated with our Lord, the church and my Christian community. As I grow older and more mature in faith, I find the importance to return the peace and love given to me by our Father, but also to share them, bringing the same peace and love to other peoples’ houses. However, we have to be aware of people who detest the religion and also of our associations with them. Our Father teaches us to be people of peace, love, patience and kindness as we ourselves are a testimony of God’s work in us. Choose wisely, but do not fear and be uncertain when you are confronted because we are in the ‘coolest family’.
(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Dear Lord, give me the strength and patience with those around me so that I may bring your genuine peace into their homes.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for my friends. The friends who are dear to me and keep them safe in your embrace, so they may feel Your warmth and love.