Over the last weeks, our first readings have come from the letters of St Paul. Today we return to the Old Testament and begin the book of Ezra. Ezra was a leader of the Jewish community in Exile in Babylon. After 70 years of captivity, the Babylonian Emperor freed the Jewish community and sent 50,000 back to Israel, where they began to rebuild life and faith. But they spent the time fighting amongst themselves and jostling for power. Twenty years later Ezra lead the second group back to Israel and was dismayed by what he found. So, he found his first task was to rebuild the community, its identity, its unity and its faith. So, he began to rebuild the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem. But, uniting them to rebuild the Temple was as much about rebuilding community as it was about restoring a building.
So in today’s reading we hear the call from Ezra for everyone to work together, for the people themselves to be the Temple, more than just putting up a new building. Everyone can contribute, everyone has something to offer.
In our Province of the Holy Spirit, that is exactly how most of our parishes have been built and are still being built and maintained- both the parish churches and the parish communities. Everyone can contribute; everyone has something to offer. Together we are the Church.
As an added note, with the Synod of Bishops on Synodality beginning in two weeks, it’s good to remember our parishes have been “synodality in action” for as long as we can remember.
Fr Tom McDonough CP the Parish Priest of St.Brigid’s parish Marrickville.