Grace to you!
Today and tomorrow's reflections will center on the messages from the book of Nehemiah. The book is regarded as a continuation of the book of Ezra. Some call it Second Ezra. It has 13 chapters.
It's more or less memoirs of Nehemiah, whose ancestry is Judah, but who serves as the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes Longimanus of Persia (465 B.C. to 425 B.C.).
According to Venerable Bede, the name Nehemiah means “The Comforter of God.” True to the meaning of his name, Nehemiah played a significant role as comforter to God's people in Jerusalem whose iconic city, Jerusalem, was in ruin.
As cupbearer, his duty was to taste every wine and water presented to the king before the king would drink them. Constantly he laid his life on the line, ready to die first in case the wine was poisoned, so the life of the king would be saved.
Because of the delicate nature of his job, he was one of the closest to the king in the king’s court. His position meant he would have the prestige and comfort of being in the inner circle, corridors of power and influence in the kingdom.
However, he didn't allow his personal comfort to make him indifferent to the plights of the suffering. He heard about the ruins of the city of Jerusalem and the sufferings of Judah. He used his position to be an intercessor, playing a role consistent with his name—a comforter.
He pleaded before the king for the rebuilding of Jerusalem city walls. When the king asked how this could be done, he had a plan with details of a timeline and budget. He was convincing; thus, the king granted his request, allowing him to return to Jerusalem. For about twelve years, he completed the task of rebuilding before returning to the king.
There are many spiritual lessons for us in this story. First, let not our personal comfort because of the privilege of office, connections or family, allow us to ignore the plight of the poor wherever they may be. The poor must not be forgotten.
Second, it inspires us not to forget where we come from, our roots, and always to give back to our community and our roots. You’re born there and are from there because God wants you to be a comfort to them when you’re blessed.
Third, in Nehemiah I see what God has done for us in Christ. Nehemiah is like a figure pointing to the time of Christ, who will send us the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to plead our cause before God and be our consolation when we need it most.
Finally, it is not sufficient to cry for the plight of the poor. Like Nehemiah, we should be able to have practical solutions; so, when opportunity calls, our answers are ready for action. We may cry all the woes, but without a practical solution as response to evil, we are all talk, no action. Those who have practical answers easily walk the talk.
May God give us the grace to hear the cry of the needy and be ready to offer practical help to change the tide of avoidable suffering. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Week 26 A: Neh 2:1-8; Lk 9:57-62]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.