I have to mention Ezra from our first reading, being the canon lawyer that I am. Because, you see, Ezra is connected to the law and quite significant when it comes to establishing the foundation for church law.
Ezra lives about 450 BC during the Diaspora, or when the Jews were dispersed throughout the Middle East. Jerusalem had been destroyed and many of the Jews taken into captivity in Babylon. He is a scribe and priest (remember how Jesus confronts the scribes?). He is sent by Artaxerxes, the King of Persia, who has conquered the area, back to Jerusalem to reestablish the Torah or the law to the Jews who were now living back in Israel.
Ezra was commissioned for this project because he was a man of the law. He had introduced to Jewish communities living outside of Israel to the customs of the faith. These weren't just haphazard practices created by Ezra, but practices outlined in the law. Following the law, therefore, connected these scattered Jewish peoples to the true faith. They couldn't physically worship in Jerusalem. But this didn't mean they still couldn't be Hebrews. If they followed the law, their identity was established. So, it wasn't political nationality, ethnic background, or even regular participation in the Jerusalem temple cult, but following the law that made them God's chosen people.
Ezra establishes a juridical structure, and synagogues, in which our Lord finds himself in today's Gospel, flow from this. And this structure will carry over from Judaism into Christianity. The Catholic Church, the new people of God, likewise has official dignitaries and a set of customs that make the people distinctly Catholic. We can thank Ezra for our Church!
Today, Sunday, begins Catholic Schools Week across the Archdiocese. We will have a special Sunday 11am Mass, followed by an open house in school, with plenty of activities, a bake sale, and tours for prospective families. An 8th-grade student will be giving a short reflection after each Mass this weekend on what Saint Juliana School and a Catholic Education means to them. Otherwise, there is a series of special events planned for the kids throughout the week, including the 8th grade versus staff/pastor volleyball game. We, the staff, will be looking to avenge our loss last year. If you have a moment, please pray for the success of our school. We are doing well and are hoping to continue to grow. Even if you do not have children in our school, spread the good word about Saint Juliana School to your neighbors and friends!
While we are on the subject of our school, I want to thank Mrs. Kathleen Barton for her four months of service, acting as our interim principal while Mrs. Margie Marshall was away on maternity leave. I am so grateful to Kathleen. She did a wonderful job and was a pleasure to have back in action. Among all the activities of ensuring the smooth functioning of our school, Kathleen navigated a broken boiler and the final completion of our new elevator. She can now return to enjoying her retirement, as Mrs. Marshall will be returning this week. Margie and her husband Nate had their first child, Tommy, back in September. Welcome back, Margie!
The Scouts will be in the back of the church this weekend collecting for their annual sock drive. Thank you all for your service to the poor.
I will be saying Mass at Regina Dominican High School this Monday. Tuesday, all priests of the Archdiocese will be attending an all-day presbyteral gathering. There will also be a First Reconciliation/Communion parent meeting this Tuesday at 6:30pm in the church. Finally, we will have Eucharistic Adoration from 9am until 5:45pm in the church for our First Friday Adoration. Please consider stopping in for some quiet prayer with the Lord and perhaps even signing up for a half-hour time slot as an adorer.
Yours in Christ,