In the first reading, Ezra gets a strange reaction from the people to whom he reads the book of the law. First they lie down, with faces to the ground, and then they all are weeping. Remember the background of this reading. The people of Israel had returned from exile and needed to become a unified nation. Most had never heard the laws, so when they learned what was expected of them and realized how much of the Law they had broken, they wept from shame. Many probably didn’t know that they had been breaking the law. Others might have been overwhelmed with all the requirements of the law.
Ezra and Nehemiah console the people by reminding them that their return makes this a day “holy to the LORD” (Nehemiah 8:10). He adds that they would draw strength from “rejoicing in the LORD.” That may be good advice for us also.We might find ourselves so trapped in sin that we think we could never be forgiven. We need to remember that Jesus loved sinners so much that he gave his life on the cross to free us from sin. No sin can be so bad that God’s love cannot forgive it. In other words, God’s forgiveness is only limited by our failure to ask for it. As the psalms say, God’s mercy endures forever. In fact, the more I have to repent, the more God wants to forgive. So we can rejoice in the Lord’s forgiveness and the Spirit will give us the strength to change our lives.
And what about those who find the law overwhelming? That usually means a lack of faith in God’s willingness to help us or in our ability to do the best we can to live as Christians. It can also be because we have forgotten Jesus’ saying that all of God’s laws are contained in the command to love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The more we come to accept God’s presence in our lives and see God in others, the easier it becomes to keep the law of love.BACK TO LIST