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Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Ezra 9:5-9 & Lk. 9:1-6

The honesty of the prayer of Ezra is to be admired. He felt like the sinner in 'Amazing Grace' who with shame listed the failings of his people and admitted guilt before God. This prayer breathes a spirit both of faith and of trust, pleading for the mercy of God.

How different was Ezra's approach to God than is the situation of a guilty man who is accused in a court of law. He pays a lawyer a good fee to defend him. He will be at pains either to excuse his client or to protest that no proof can be brought against him. As long as there is the slightest hope of not being judged unfavourably, he will plead that he is not guilty. Ezra knew the just deserts his people should have received from God, but He thanked God for the mercy shown them. He knew He could expect this of God: he recalled how God had rescued them from bondage in Babylon.

We can approach God with the same optimism. Each of us in our own way has experienced God's mercy time and time again. How many times have we sinned yet God gives us the grace to repent and He forgives us. As we thank God for His mercy let us also ask Him to give us a horror for anything that displeases Him. May we never be guilty of taking God's mercy for granted.

There came a time in the ministry of Jesus when He was ready to send His disciples into the field. He had chosen a group of 12 men to follow Him. They heard every word He said, saw every miracle He performed, heard every prayer He prayed. Patiently and resolutely Jesus brought them along in their understanding of His message and mission. Now He considered they were ready, so He sent them out on their own to preach the Gospel and to heal the sick. He told them to travel light so they could move from place to place freely and quickly. They were to depend on the generosity of the people who received them for shelter and food. And they were to preach in His authority and to heal with His power. In short, they were to carry on the very work that Christ has begun.

The Church still has that same commission. We are entrusted and empowered to carry on the work of Christ today. Our style of outreach is different from the Apostles but the message and the mission are exactly the same. We are commissioned to preach the truth and heal the sick although, of course, the Church has no monopoly on teaching and healing. Schools and hospitals operate in our society without any connection to the Church. But they still are carrying on the work of Christ, even though they may not realise it! There is one God from Whom all truth and life come. Whenever we advance the cause of truth, we carry on the work of Christ. Whenever we ease the burdens of the suffering, we carry on the work of Christ.

Lord Jesus, we thank You for the great privilege You give us, of sharing in Your teaching and healing ministry.

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