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MEMORIAL OF SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL, PRIEST

Ezra 9:5-9


At the evening sacrifice I got up from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle torn, and fell on my knees, spread out my hands to the Lord my God, and said,

“O my God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors to this day we have been deep in guilt, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been handed over to the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as is now the case. But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord our God, who has left us a remnant, and given us a stake in his holy place, in order that he may brighten our eyes and grant us a little sustenance in our slavery. For we are slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to give us new life to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judea and Jerusalem.



Psalm - Tobit 13:2-4, 7-8


“Blessed be God who lives forever, because his kingdom lasts throughout all ages. For he afflicts, and he shows mercy; he leads down to Hades in the lowest regions of the earth, and he brings up from the great abyss, and there is nothing that can escape his hand. Acknowledge him before the nations, O children of Israel; for he has scattered you among them. He has shown you his greatness even there. Exalt him in the presence of every living being, because he is our Lord and he is our God; he is our Father and he is God forever.


Luke 9:1-6


Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

(NRSVCE)

Meditation


Can you imagine receiving a visit from an early disciple of Jesus who had authority to heal diseases and cast out demons, yet you did not want to welcome them? It would be the same as refusing healing and deliverance. It would be the same as refusing Christ.


As we read in Ezra, shame and guilt are powerful factors whenever we must consider our own sinfulness. The prophet prays, "O my God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you." He repents even on behalf of all the ancestors and knows that because of their sin, evil has befallen them so that they are handed over "to sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame."


Whenever we forget God and refuse to repent of our sins, evil does befall us. We find ourselves today awash in the sins of our culture. Infants continue to be slaughtered in the womb and their body parts are sold. Sex slavery and trafficking is at an all time high, a multi-billion dollar industry. Gluttony, drug abuse, witchcraft and spiritism, corporate greed, corrupt politicians, complicit media, narcissism, homosexual marriage, and almost anywhere we can look, we see rampant evils and demonic influences. At such a point, God will allow us to experience the folly of our turning away from him and we will know what special kind of hell we have created.


But God always shows us a way out. God sends messengers to deliver us and heal us even now because we still have grace to build his kingdom. As we read in the psalm today, we find comfort for our hearts:

“Blessed be God who lives forever, because his kingdom lasts throughout all ages. For he afflicts, and he shows mercy; he leads down to Hades in the lowest regions of the earth, and he brings up from the great abyss, and there is nothing that can escape his hand. Acknowledge him before the nations, O children of Israel; for he has scattered you among them. He has shown you his greatness even there. Exalt him in the presence of every living being, because he is our Lord and he is our God; he is our Father and he is God forever." Amen


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