I fell on my knees with my hands out to the LORD.
Two things are essential to remember about today’s reading from Ezra and the Old Testament. Firstly, the ancient Jews saw the individual in the context of the community. So Ezra was praying with and for the community. Secondly, the Old Testament way of praying was with palms open (not folded hands) toward heaven in a gesture of surrender and openness. Ezra’s prayer moves from an “I am too ashamed and confounded . . .” to “our wicked deeds” and “our guilt.”
Remembering this re-orients me when I think about the Penitential Act at Mass. Yes, I have sinned often. And, we have sinned. The Form B prayer speaks of “us” and “we.” And later in the Mass, we pray, “give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
So when I think about—usually angrily—the people (many my fellow Christians) who believe and spread lies like Covid is a hoax, the vaccine will give you the virus, children don’t die from Covid, etc.; President Biden was not legally elected, there is no global warming, and on and on, I sigh in frustration. And yet, if I put on the mindset of Ezra, I might better pray with open hands that mercy comes to us. For we are not sufficiently taking care of ourselves, one another, the poor and marginalized in our midst, our world community, our earth.
For Ezra says, and Pope Francis so often reminds us, “God has not abandoned us;” God unceasingly welcomes us into his loving and merciful hands to “give us new life.” May we come to the LORD today with outstretched hands pleading for mercy for us, that we might “raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins.”
Let Us Pray:
Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned against you. Show us, O Lord, your mercy. And grant us your salvation.
Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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