Our Scripture readings today give testimony to what is going on in the world, and what our response might be. In our first reading Ezra prays to God, acknowledging the guilt of the people, which led up to their exile at the hands of the Babylonians. Even though our circumstances are different from those of Ezra’s time, his words can be descriptive of our situation today:
"… for our wicked deeds we have been delivered up, we and our kings and our priests, to the will of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace, as is the case today."
We may not be under the rule of foreign leaders, but it can seem that we have been delivered up to the sword (violence), to captivity (addiction), to pillage (greed), and to disgrace (scandal).
What is our response? We find it in our Gospel reading. Jesus sends out the Twelve and gives them "power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases," and He sends them "to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick."
Our response to the ills of our world is the love of God in Jesus Christ. This is what we have received. This is what we are called to share. This is the basis for our concern for the environment, our thirst for justice, and our desire for peace. This is what gives meaning to the use of our gifts, talents, and resources. Perhaps this last is the lesson we learn from Jesus saying to the Twelve, "Take nothing for the journey." What we can bring to the building up of the Kingdom is not much without the love of God infusing everything we say and do.
Like Ezra, may we realize we have been given "new life" in Christ, and may we "raise again the house of our God" in our lives and hearts, our words and deeds.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is on staff at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.