Archive for the ‘Nehemiah’ Category

Called to Seek & Save

January 22, 2022

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
  because he has anointed me
  to bring glad tidings to the poor
  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
  and recovery of sight to the blind,
  to let the oppressed go free
  and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

—Luke 4:18-19

In the beginning, God created everything by His words. When God created the first human being, He created him out of the dust in His own image and likeness. God’s creation was perfect, yet Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. Instead of following his instructions, Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, bringing darkness and death into the world. But God did not abandon them. He gave them hope by sending them a savior who would be born from the seed of a woman and would crush the head of the serpent who tricked them. This Savior would save His people from sin and death. From that moment on, God’s mission started.

In our time we have a wonderful saint, Mother Teresa, who continued God’s mission to the poor, the orphan, the refugees and all those who are considered least in the society. Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in Yugoslavia in ordinary family. At the age of twelve she had a call from Jesus to serve the poor. When she was eighteen years old, she left her home to join a community of Irish nuns. One of Mother Teresa’s first assignments was to teach in the school, Later she discovered that God was calling her to do more. She received a second calling, “a call within a call.” She left the convent life and started to work with the poor in the streets. She started this mission with 5 rupees, which is Indian money worth less than a penny. People witness her nuns ministering to the suffering Jesus whom they encountered in the poor, especially those who were dying in the streets. She quickly attracted both financial support and volunteers. This is the way God continues His mission even today.

Today’s first reading is a beautiful scene of Nehemiah, who was a layman, not a priest, not a king. During the Babylonian exile, Nehemiah served under the Persian king as a cup bearer, a position of great importance and influence with the king’s court. Nehemiah was a man who was dependent on God, always praying, always seeking to be sensitive to God’s will in his life. One day he had a chance to speak to the king about helping the people of Israel to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the Jews came together to accomplish the goal of reconstructing the walls of Jerusalem, Judea’s capital city. Nehemiah and Ezra led the spiritual renewal of the people and directed the political and religious restoration of the Jews in their homeland after the Babylonian captivity. God shows us how He can take an ordinary layman like Nehemiah to continue His extraordinary mission to His people.

The mission begins in the heart of God. God sent his only Son to this world to save His people. Jesus’ mission was to save that which was lost. Jesus was convinced that he was able to fulfill his mission because God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus entered Zacchaeus’ house He said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus had just been criticized for going to the house of a sinner. Jesus responded by affirming His mission to save the lost; sinners whose reputation for sinfulness was not a reason avoid then, rather, it was a reason to seek them out. In Matthew chapter nine, when Jesus went to Matthew’s home for dinner, while he was at table, once again Jesus was criticized for “eating with the tax collector and sinners,” and once again Jesus responded by stating of His mission “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Jesus’ mission was to save His people. Jesus did not passively wait for the lost to come to Him, but He went after them. He explained His mission in the Parable of the Lost Sheep (in Luke chapter fifteen). In this parable, Jesus talks about a shepherd who loses his sheep and leaves the rest of his herd to find that lost sheep. Jesus concludes this parable saying “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous’ persons who need no repentance.”

The Church by its nature is missionary because her founder, Jesus Christ, was the first missionary. God the Father sent God the Son Incarnate in Jesus into the world with a message of God’s love and salvation. Thus, the evangelizing mission of the Church is essentially the announcement of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation, as these are revealed to mankind through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. How should we evangelize? By exemplary and transparent Christian life. The most powerful means of preaching Christ is by living a truly Christian life — a life filled with love, mercy, kindness, compassion, and a spirit of forgiveness and service.

Wednesday, 26th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

September 30, 2009

Why do the Jews in today’s psalm begin to mourn when their “captors” ask them to sing one of Zion’s songs? This psalm refers to the time of the Jewish Exile. The kingdom of Judea was conquered by the Babylonian Empire 586 years before Christ. Many Jews were deported from their homeland to the rivers of Babylon in the East. Time passed, and that superpower was conquered by another, and after 50 years of Babylonian Captivity, the Persian Empire allowed the Jews to go home. However, many years passed, and Jerusalem, the city of God, remained in great disrepair.

This weighed heavily on the heart of Nehemiah, who was the cupbearer to the king of Persia. As cupbearer, he was the king’s highly-trusted servant because it was his job to drink of any wine that would be offered to the king, lest that it be poisoned. In the first reading we heard Nehemiah recall in his own words how he obtained permission from the king to rebuild God’s city, the city of his ancestors. Nehemiah is a “type” or foreshadowing of Christ.

As Nehemiah had the consent of his king for his mission, so Jesus had the consent of His father to come to Jerusalem as the restorer of God’s people.

Like Nehemiah before Him, Jesus desired, with all the sentiments of His human heart, to bless His deceased ancestors in their graves, for their blood ran through His own veins.

Like Nehemiah, Jesus wanted to build God’s city, giving it a new glory that would attract all nations to a more perfect worship of God within its walls.

Nehemiah used the timber of the Gentiles to build the earthly Jerusalem. To build the heavenly Jerusalem, Jesus used the wood of the Roman’s cross.

Nehemiah was old cupbearer, who faced death in service of the king. Jesus is the new cupbearer, who drinks from the cup, so that sins may be forgiven.

The cup that Jesus drinks is a cup of suffering mingled with joy. Today, at this Mass, Jesus asks us to follow Him. He says, take this cup, all of you, and to drink from it in remembrance of me.