Scripture: 1st Reading: Neh8,1-12; Resp. Psalm: Ps19,8-11; Gosp. Accl.: Mk1,15; Gospel: Lk10,1-12
The law of the Lord meant more to them than silver and gold. The least of Yahweh caught them to the heart and convicted them. The law of Yahweh meant life and death, prosperity or disaster to them: life and prosperity if they obeyed it, death and disaster if they refused obedience to it. Why Was The law so important? The reason was no far-fetched.
The law contained the expressed will of Yahweh for His people. The law was the legal framework that was the fundament of the covenant Yahweh made with His people. They codified what was Israel's covenant obligations. To obey the law was thus more than a legal-civic responsibility. This is because for the people of God in the Bible, there was no division between the civil and the sacral spheres: Yahweh was in charge of life in both spheres. The law therefore had deep religious connotations and implications.
In the book of Nehemiah in today's first Reading, we are told that Ezra the priest, one of the returning exiles given permission by the king of Babylon to return to Jerusalem, read the law of Yahweh to the people from morning till midday. The purpose of Ezra's mission in Jerusalem was in all probability to impose the law on the remnant Jewish community in the Holy city that had deviated from it and some of whose members had married foreign wives, an action interpreted as a pollution of the Jewish race by the exiled Jews in Babylon.
The word today tells us that having listened to the word, the people with one accord recognized the immediacy of the word; they recognized God's voice talking to them in His word; they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. The people understood that it was Yahweh speaking to them in His word, challenging them to go to higher ground and overcome their sinfulness and limitations. The word so convicted the people that they wept when they heard it.
Their sadness at their inadequacies before the word notwithstanding, the word however gave them life, new life, new vision, new perspectives. We are told that after their sorrow, they experienced a great rejoicing and went away to eat and drink and send portions. They rejoiced because the precepts of the Lord are always right and they gladden the heart; God's decrees are perfect and they give wisdom to the simple and light to the eye.
The seventy disciples that our Lord sent on mission today had such a very deep attachment to the Word who was with them and who sent them with the word of life to deliver. The disciples were to go into every town and village that the Lord was about to come to. They were to be His advance party and forerunners. The demand of making known the word that contained the will of God was so great that they were to carry nothing and salute no one on the road.
They were not to be distracted by human beings nor encumbered and weighed down by material provisions. They were to depend solely on the providence of God and their fidelity to the word for their sustenance. They were given a share of their Master's authority and power to perform the work of their Master.
The word of God today has given us two models of obedience to the will of God: the remnant people of Jerusalem and the disciples our Lord sent on preaching mission. Both were fired by one single determination: to obey the law of God, to heed His voice; to do His holy will. We are called upon to reflect daily on the word of God.
We are challenged to allow the word change, remould, refashion and recreate us. How obedient are we to the word? How attentive are we to its commands? What place does the word occupy in our scheme of things? How ready are we to cooperate in the dissemination of the word of God? How prompt are we to be changed and transformed by the word we hear?
Let us pray: O God our Father, your Son, the Word of life, came to reveal to us your will. Be with us as we journey towards you. Fill our hearts with your love. Give us the grace to listen and act on your word. Give us life by obeying your dictates and commands. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.