Memory of the Poor

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Ezra 1,1-6

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia -- to fulfil the word of Yahweh spoken through Jeremiah -Yahweh roused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation and to have it publicly displayed throughout his kingdom: 'Cyrus king of Persia says this, "Yahweh, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build him a Temple in Jerusalem, in Judah. Whoever among you belongs to the full tally of his people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem, in Judah, and build the Temple of Yahweh, God of Israel, who is the God in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, wherever he lives, be helped by the people of his locality with silver, gold, equipment and riding beasts, as well as voluntary offerings for the Temple of God which is in Jerusalem." ' Then the heads of families of Judah and of Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, in fact all whose spirit had been roused by God, prepared to go and rebuild the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem; and all their neighbours gave them every kind of help: silver, gold, equipment, riding beasts and valuable presents, in addition to their voluntary offerings.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The word of the Lord is not pronounced in vain. This is what is stated in the beginning of the book of Ezra, which sees the fulfilment of the prophetic word even through the work of Cyrus, a foreign king. He becomes the instrument in the hands of God to free His people from exile so that they return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. This king of the Persians had conquered Babylon by subduing the ancient empire, which was responsible for the destruction of both Jerusalem and the temple as well as deportation. Already Isaiah had seen in him the envoy of God: "Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him..." (Is 45:1). This is why he is presented as the chosen one, the messiah of God. The Lord does not limit his action to Israel, but extends it to all peoples. His word performs prodigies through whoever God wants. It must have been surprising for the contemporaries of the prophet, but also for the readers of the book of Ezra to see the envoy of the God of Israel in a foreign king. The fundamental purpose that he was called to fulfil concerned the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The temple and the Torah, the divine teaching, were the heart of post-exile Israel. In the temple one could indeed meet the Lord, turn to him in prayer, offer sacrifices. Israel, as it also happens for us, needed a concrete place where they could meet the Lord. In the house of God each person personally and together with the community of brothers and sisters can turn to the Lord, invoke his mercy and obtain forgiveness. There was a common concern for the temple in that exiled community. Each one offers precious objects, because the presence of God is the most precious thing that a person can have. This is why the whole first part of the book will be dedicated to reconstruction work.