Missionary Weekly Reflection
Sunday, 29 March 2020
5th Week of Lent
Eze. 37:12-14; Ps. 130:1-2,3-4ab,4c-6,7-8; Rm. 8:8-11; Joh. 11:1-45 (long) or Joh. 11:3-7,17,20-27,33b-45 (short)
The Babylonian exile became the ‘national death’ of the Israelites (v. 11). Israel lost some of their identity: Land, Temple and King. This was an identity crisis and also a severed and serious crisis of faith. They began to doubt the LORD: where are all His previous promises? Is His word still trustworthy? Can we still rely on Him? Even, from the mind of the exiled group a big question arose: why is our Almighty LORD defeated by the Babylonian gods? The loyalty and power of the LORD began to be doubted. Exile was like the experience of death: “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off ” (Eze. 37:11). This was their acute suffering as a nation: physically sick and weak, loss of hope and identity. Israel had “died inside and outside”: physically and spiritually dead. Their whole lives died, with no hope at all. They were “extinct” in the exile of Babylon.
In the midst of a nation that was being hit by acute pessimism, Ezekiel came with hope! That is the first message for us: be a preacher of good news, not of sorrow ones. Share optimism, not pessimism. Be a part of the solution, not the critic nor trouble maker! However, Ezekiel did not deliver cheap teaching and preaching. He did not proclaim the LORD who made instant miracle. Rather, he proclaimed the LORD whom Israel had known: the Liberator and the Creator!
That is the second message: proclaim the LORD who sets free! Ezekiel proclaimed the LORD who will: “open your graves and bring you up from them, My people, and I will bring you back to the land of Israel” (v.12). This promise made Israel remember the Lord’s deeds in their history. Egypt was their “grave” as slaves. They had been risen by the Lord from the land of slavery. The word “bring you up” in this promise reminded them of the LORDs action in “expelling” them from Egypt. They had been “taken out” from the grave of slavery. That was what He immediately did for His people in the Babylonian Exile. The faith in the loving LORD makes our hope ensured.
Third, preach the Lord who creates! Ezekiel proclaimed the LORD who: “will give My Spirit into you, that you will live again and I will let you stay in your land.” This promise reminds us of the story of the first man creation, who came alive because he was breathed by the Spirit of the LORD (Gen. 2: 7). Exile was the moment of creation. The people freed from exile were not the old Israelites, but the renewed Israelites by the Spirit of LORD. Their identity was renewed by God Himself. We are filled with acute anxiety of the pandemic that threatens and take away thousands of lives. Many of our prayers seem unanswered. We are dead and buried in suffering, sadness, fear and despair.
Today’s reading gives us a firm message: It is from those graves that the Lord will rise us up and create us a new. The Spirit of LORD will certainly change this “Corona Exile” into a moment of creation, deliverance and renewal.
(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)
DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER
Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.
Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:
For Evangelization intention:
For the Catholics in China: May the Catholics in China endure the constancy of faith to Gospel and grow in unity. We pray…
For Indonesian Churches intention:
Traditional market: May in the midst of modern malls outbreak, the traditional markets can still keep their existence and obtain their living right, so the small merchants can keep going on with their economic activities. We pray…
We present the Lent: to become the time of conducting training of justice for all the people in our Dioceses. We pray …