September 30, 2015
WEDNESDAY, Year I, week 26:
The Responsorial Psalm pledges us to remember God’s work with love in order to continue it: “Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!” (Psalm 137).
Nehemiah 2: 1-8 shows us a Jew who could not forget what Jerusalem was like when the people were faithful to the covenant. He was the butler of King Artaxerxes, who, noticing he was sad, asked him about it. Nehemiah told him it was because Jerusalem was in ruins. So the king and sent him to Judah as governor to rebuild the walls.
We should notice that God did not speak to Nehemiah in any extraordinary way; just through the movements of his heart. This seems to be true of all the major players in the reconstruction of Jerusalem: Haggai and Zechariah the prophets, Ezra the priest and scribe, and Nehemiah, who as governor ruled with the authority of the king. And the same is true of us, who by Baptism have been consecrated prophets, priests and stewards of the kingship of Christ.
We heard God speaking to us once, directly and audibly, in the words of the baptismal rite when we were consecrated, commissioned and empowered to carry on the work of Jesus, Prophet, Priest and King. But after Baptism God calls and sends us to specific tasks the same ways he did Nehemiah: through a conversation he had with his brother about Jerusalem (1: 1-2), through his own deep feelings about it (1: 4-7), through his prayer over the words of Scripture (1: 8-9), and through the response of the king when he spoke up about what he was feeling. Because Nehemiah responded with a sense of responsibility to what he heard, felt, read and was asked about, God used him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. And it all started because he cared: “Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!”
In Luke 9: 57-62 Jesus helps us to measure the greatness of the work to which we are called by the measure of dedication which he asks of us. We have to be willing to be without a roof over our heads, if it comes to that, and to go against the expectations even of our families. St. Ignatius of Loyola echoes this in a key meditation of his Spiritual Exercises: A ruler is enlisting help to bring peace, truth and justice to the whole world. He says:
“Those who wish to join me have to be content to eat, drink and be clothed as I am; to work with me by day and watch with me by night. But afterwards they will share with me in the victory just as they have shared in the struggle.” Ignatius says, “Think of how dedicated citizens should respond to a leader so inspiring and so accessible.”
Think about it. This is our call as stewards of Christ the King.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Take initiatives. Be generous and fearless.