26th Week in Ordinary Time
Rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!
The people were cut to the heart. As the prophet Ezra read from the Law of Moses for six hours, the men, women, and even the children were deeply affected. They began to weep as they realized that they had strayed from their calling to be God’s own special people.
But instead of letting the people remain caught in their mourning, Ezra and Nehemiah, the governor, urged them to rejoice. God had granted his people a new beginning. They had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, so now the people were protected from their enemies. They could return to worshipping the Lord, walking in his ways, and being obedient to his commandments.
When we realize how we have strayed from the Lord, we might have the same reaction as the people did—we are sad because we have disobeyed God and fallen short. But when we recognize our sinfulness, we should see it as God pricking our conscience so that we will turn back to him. He doesn’t want us to get bogged down in sorrow and guilt. He wants us to come to him in repentance so that he can pour out his mercy on us. As he did for the Israelites, he wants to give us a new beginning; he wants to wipe the slate clean so that we can start again.
What a cause for rejoicing! You can rejoice because you have seen your need for God’s mercy and have come to him. You can rejoice knowing that he will shower you with his grace to help you fight sin and temptation in the future. You can rejoice because your God is always a God of new beginnings. Even if you fall into sin again, he will forgive you when you turn to him.
So when you weep for your sins, don’t stop there. Seek God’s forgiveness, and then rejoice. As it was for the Israelites, your joy will become your strength as well. It will strengthen your faith in a loving and merciful God. It will strengthen your resolve to follow his commandments and do his will. And it will strengthen your love for a God whose mercy knows no bounds.
“Father, your never-ending love and mercy fill me with joy!”
Word Among Us