Grace to you!
Years had gone by. Cyrus, the king of Persia who authorized the return and rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem in 538 B.C., had passed. Some people in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, where the rebuilding of the temple destroyed by the Babylonians was located, started to complain and object to the rebuilding. They sent a series of complaints to the successor of Cyrus, Artaxerxes 1, asking him to rescind the policy of Cyrus, which authorized the rebuilding (Ezr 4:17-22). He did, in part, for political reasons.
After about 14 years, prophets Haggai (Aggeus) and Zechariah inspired the people of God in Judah and Jerusalem to courageously continue the rebuilding work. They saw that to lie low, when the prophetic spirit was urging them on to do something, wasn't right. This is important: In establishing a just society, good people must do something good. Idling about or giving excuses is no ethical option. Remember the saying that evil thrives when good people do nothing.
Some cease to do good because they fear being criticized or attacked. The worst destruction of the human person and identity is self-destruction. This can come when we allow negative attitudes and attacks to stop or derail us from the mission of heavenly plan.
May God constantly send the likes of Haggai and Zechariah to inspire people to do good and reject inaction.
Of course, this new move of rebuilding was faced with strong oppositions, drawing the attention of Thathani, named in historical the books of Babylon as a governor “beyond the river” around 502 B.C. (See Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol 3, 1944, p. 46). Thathani allowed the rebuilding to continue while he sent an official inquiry to the then King Darius of Persia.
Another good example of leadership: Until proven otherwise, do not stop a good work and a good policy. Hindering what is good when the reason hasn't been properly discerned is bad leadership. It's counterproductive and regressive. It's also unethical and ungodly.
King Darius did a wise thing. He researched the archives and found the edict that Cyrus had signed approving the rebuilding. He issued his own response authorizing the governor and all government officials to implement the continuous work of the rebuilding.
Read his letter addressed to all leaders in West-of-Euphrates: “Let the governor and the elders of the Jews continue the work on that house of God; they are to rebuild it on its former site. I also issue this decree concerning your dealing with these elders of the Jews in the rebuilding of that house of God: From the royal revenue, the taxes of West-of-Euphrates, let these men be repaid for their expenses, in full and without delay. I, Darius, have issued this decree; let it be carefully executed” (Ezr 6:7-8).
This must have been the most exciting news for Haggai, Zechariah and the rest of the people. Their calculated risk, relying in divine insight, paid off.
Here is also another lesson: Continuity with good policy is the right thing to do. Often, we tend to make our predecessors look bad by tearing down good policies they have made, forgetting that it isn't about them, it's about “we”, about what is right and the common good. Ezra has some good stuff for leaders.
Tomorrow we continue exploring the lessons from this beautiful Old Testament text.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 25 A: Ezr 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20; Lk 8:19-21]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible 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.