St.Vincent De Paul
Today’s first reading is from the book of Ezra, a priest of Israel, who gives thanks to the Lord for delivering the Jews from bondage in Babylon. The Neo-Babylonian empire had conquered Judah in the 6th century BC and destroyed the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem in 586 BC. The elite of Judean society were exiled to Babylon, as we hear in the Psalmist’s lament, ‘By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept as we remembered Zion’ (Psalm 137). In the mid-6th century Cyrus, the king of the ‘Medes and Persians’ defeated the Neo-Babylonian empire and allowed the Jews to return home and begin re-building the Temple. Thus, Ezra gives thanks to the Lord ‘who has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our servitude’. The responsorial Psalm, from the Book of Tobit, echoes the thanksgiving of Ezra for the Lord’s mercy, ‘in the land of my exile I praise him and show his power and majesty to a sinful nation’.
The Gospel reading from Luke 9 expresses the urgency of Jesus’ mission to proclaim the Kingdom. He gives power and authority to his disciples to heal and preach in his name. The disciples are to ‘travel light’, not to brood regretfully over rejection, but to move on in hope that the good news of the Kingdom will find ready listeners and responsive hearts in the next town. Today is the feast of St Vincent de Paul, and we remember his passionate dedication to the poor, sick and marginalized.
Robert Gascoigne is a parishioner at St Brigid’s, Marrickville. He is a theologian who taught for many years at the Australian Catholic University.