25th Week in Ordinary Time
I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the Lord.”
Psalm 122 is a “song of ascents,” one of fifteen psalms sung by Jewish pilgrims as they traveled to Jerusalem for the annual feast of Passover. These psalms recall the joy and excitement the Jews felt as they returned to Jerusalem after their exile—a story that we find in today’s first reading.
So imagine you are a first-century Jew in a caravan, traveling the dusty, arduous road that will take you to Jerusalem for the feast. As you sing this psalm, you rejoice to think of how the Lord worked miraculously to bring your ancestors back to the Promised Land. You recall how lonely and cut off from God’s promises these exiles must have felt in the land of Babylon. Separated from the Temple, the house of God, they had nowhere to go to celebrate their holy feasts.
But then the pagan King Darius issued an order allowing them to return home and rebuild their Temple—he even financed the effort. Understandably, it was hard for these exiles to contain their joy. The words of the prophets promising return and restoration were being fulfilled. They were finally going home. Of course they rejoiced to go to the house of the Lord! Of course any first-century Jew would have felt that same joy as he made his way to the Temple. His ancestors’ story was his story as well, and he was excited to relive it.
Have you ever felt this kind of delight? You might think you don’t have much in common with the ancient Jews. You have not been in exile; in fact, you probably went to the house of the Lord a couple of days ago to celebrate Sunday Mass. But their story is yours too. Sin had made you an exile from God’s presence, but now, through Christ, you have been brought near.
So do what the Jews did, and remember: God has fulfilled his promises to you. Your exile is over. God has made his home in your heart. He is present in your family. And even better, he is present when you go to the house of the Lord to join your brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Lord, I will rejoice to go to your house!”
Ezra 6:7-8, 12, 14-20
Word Among Us