Evangelization is not an easy job. Jesus sent his followers out into the world with this mission, and he sends us out at the end of every Mass. Today’s story from Luke’s Gospel tells how the Lord prepared his apostles: don’t take a lot of stuff or money or even a change of clothes. You will meet disappointments, obstacles, and roadblocks. Just shake the dust of these encounters from your feet and move on. So, they did, and so should we: proclaim God’s Kingdom, cast out demons, and cure diseases everywhere.
Centuries before Jesus, God gave the priest and prophet Ezra his own mission: bring his Chosen people back to the Covenant made by their ancestors. With his ripping of clothes, wretchedness, and falling to his knees, Ezra signals that it is not going well! His ancestors had been harshly punished for their “wicked deeds.” The Assyrians conquered them cruelly and deported thousands to other parts of their empire. When the Babylonians supplanted the Assyrians, they ensured there were no thoughts of freedom: Jerusalem was razed, Solomon’s great Temple destroyed, and the survivors’ force marched to Babylon.
A few generations before Ezra, God relented: the pagan Cyrus the Great of Persia destroyed the Babylonians and sent the exiles home with funds to rebuild the Temple and resume their worship. When Ezra raises his lament, the Temple has been rebuilt, and Israel can have its own king. The current Persian overlord sent Ezra to Jerusalem with more money and all the looted Temple vessels they could find in Babylon. What could go wrong? He found polluted worship and disregard for all God’s commandments. What a bunch of ingrates!
Ezra did not give up. Jesus did not give up, nor did his apostles and disciples. Do you belong on this list?
Let Us Pray:
Dear God, we love you for your great gift of the Eucharist, which empowers us to persevere in spreading the Good News and striving for the coming of your Eucharistic Kingdom! Amen.