Father Peter Clarke

From the Diocese of Bridgetown

OH, THE WORD OF THE LORD, DEEP WITHIN MY BEING By Fr. Peter Clarke, O.P.

OH, THE WORD OF THE LORD, DEEP WITHIN MY BEING By Fr. Peter Clarke, O.P.

Almighty God had settled His chosen people in the land He had promised them.The Temple in Jerusalem was the focal point of the nation.Time came when they no longer showed their gratitude to God. They disobeyed His commandments and, worst of all, they turned away from the one true God and worshipped pagan idols.

Repeatedly a very angry God warned them through His Prophets, especially Jeremiah.Their stubbornness was their undoing. Many of the most powerful and influential were carried off into exile in Babylon.

Their hearts were broken at their being rejected by God, at His withdrawing from them His blessing and His bounty. They came to realize how much God meant to them. They longed for Him to forgive them and restore them to their God-given land and their precious Temple.

Eventually He heeded their cry.He caused them to be permitted to return home, to restore Jerusalem and its Temple. It was to people very conscious of God's merciful love that the priest Ezra read the Word of God, in the square in front of the Water Gate, in the presence of the men and women, and of those old enough to understand, the Scribe Ezra book from dawn till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

"In full view of all the people ...he opened the book; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people raised their hands and answered, 'Amen! Amen!'; then they bowed down and, face to the ground, prostrated themselves before the Lord.Ezra read from the book of the Law of God, translating and giving the sense; so the reading was understood...

Then his Excellency, Nehemiah, and the priest-scribe, Ezra, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people, 'Today is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not be mournful, do not weep.' For the people were all in tears as they listened to the words of the Law

He then said, "You may go; eat what is rich, drink what is sweet and send a helping to the man who has nothing prepared. For today is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad: the joy of the Lord is your stronghold."(Nehemiah Ch.8).

From this most moving episode we, brothers and sisters, must surely reflect how uniquely blessed we are that the Word of the Lord is accessible to us. We should seek from God the grace to be deeply grateful for this. If only we, today's People of God, could be as deeply moved by our Liturgical Proclamation of this Word to us, as was the crowd who absorbed every sing word that Ezra proclaimed to them!

And what about us? The Word of God is the Son of God become man. He speaks to our minds, our hearts - so that He may transform our lives.In our liturgy it is far more than the written Word of God that is proclaimed to us. It is the very person Jesus Christ Himself. It is He who is the Good News.

OH, THAT TODAY THAT WE WOULD LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF THE LORD AND HARDEN NOT OUR HEARTS!

Peter Clarke, O.P.

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