Monday, Week Twenty-Six
The Responsorial Psalm is a recognition that God is constantly restoring, “re-forming” and renewing us:
“The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory” (Psalm 102).
In Zechariah 8: 1-8 the prophet is looking at a Jerusalem without walls or temple, from which the Jews had been exiled for about sixty-five years. God is saying:
I will return to Zion, and I will dwell within Jerusalem;
I will rescue my people.…
They shall be my people, and I will be their God,
with faithfulness and justice.
Throughout the Old Testament it seems God is always moving his people to new places with promises. He called Abraham from Ur to Haran (in modern Turkey) to Canaan. Then Jacob moved the family to Egypt. With Moses, God led them back to Canaan, the “Promised Land,” which they entered under Joshua c. 1200 B.C. This was the “Exodus,” central to Jewish history. In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar razed Jerusalem and exiled the people to Babylon (near modern Baghdad). Beginning in 538 B.C., God uses the Persian emperor Cyrus to call the people back to Jerusalem. Spurred by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel, who was a layman, rebuilt the temple (520 B.C.). Then another layman, Nehemiah, rebuilt the walls (445 B.C.). and began to restore the Jewish law, which the priest-scribe Ezra was sent to complete (428-398 B.C.).
This constant movement and continuous restructuring and renewal is characteristic of the “pilgrim Church” described in Vatican II (The Church, ch. 7). We can never stop changing, because, even in doctrine “there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down.” So, “as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her” (Decree on Revelation, no. 8).
Who leads this movement? In Luke 9: 46-50 Jesus tells the apostles, who assumed that one of their hierarchical number must be “the greatest” in the kingdom, that they should “welcome” and listen to little children and even to non-members of the Church; and a fortiori, Vatican II says, to laity! “The Church has not been truly established… until there exists a laity worthy of the name working along with the hierarchy. For the gospel cannot be deeply imprinted on the life of any people without the active presence of laity”. When the laity are fully heard, “The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.”
Action: Be Christ’s steward. Help “re-form” and renew the Church.