> All the readings together
> Ezra 6:7-8,12,18-20
> Psalm 122:1-2,3-4a,4b-5
In the first reading at today's Mass we read from the Old Testament Book of Ezra. You've read that one, right? Spent many a weekend snuggled up reading the story of Ezra and Nehemiah, right? Well, maybe not. Sometimes the Old Testament can a little intimidating, so let's break it down into an easy story.
The Chosen People were strongest when they were faithful ... and they were weakest and most vulnerable when they were most unfaithful to God. About 600 years before the birth of Jesus, Israel's faith was at an all-time low. The Babylonians invaded, soon captured all of Israel, and forced them into slave labor. Their great country was in ruins and the wall protecting their mighty Jerusalem was destroyed.
However, God knows exactly what we need when we need it. A Jewish man named Nehemiah was one of those slaves captive and exiled in Babylon. Miraculously, the King of Babylon agreed to release Nehemiah so he could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the great wall. Ezra was a Jewish priest living among those those slaves captive and exiled in Babylon. He accompanied Nehemiah and they returned together to Jerusalem. Nehemiah was in charge of rebuilding the wall. Ezra was in charge of rebuilding the faith. It was Ezra who brought the Torah back into Jerusalem.
The story is a great story. Nehemiah succeeds. Ezra succeeds. Israel is eventually set free from exile. As the Chosen People return to Jerusalem, their fidelity also returns. And ... a mere 500 years later Jesus is born.
God knows exactly what we need when we need it. God knew that the Chosen People needed renewal ... that's why He sent Ezra.
Yes, God knows exactly what we need when we need it.
Yesterday was truly an historic day in south Louisiana. Our Holy Father accepted the well deserved retirement of Bishop Jacobs and appointed Bishop Shelton Fabre as our new shepherd. Yes, God knows exactly what we need when we need it.
Bishop Fabre and Bishop Jacobs are different men. They each have their own gifts. They each have their own history. They each have their own style. There are three thing about Bishop Fabre that remind me that God knows exactly what we need when we need it.
- Bishop Fabre addressed the media saying: "I give warm greetings to all the faithful of this diocese! I look forward to getting to know in a more direct way the people of this diocese as we together strive to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in so many ways here in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Your faith and the presence of the Church in this area are rooted in a rich history, which bring forward into the present though your faith and service all the mercies and graces of God that sustain us today, and allow us to face a future filled with hope in God’s providential love and promises. My brothers and sisters, I look forward to serving you and growing in faith with you." There is something of great harmony in Bishop Fabre's desire to walk with us, grow with us, and love with us that blends wonderfully with the tone of Pope Francis. Our Holy Father has repeatedly called us to love people. I find great comfort in a Bishop who begins his remarks wanting to be with us.
- Archbishop Aymond has worked closely with Bishop Fabre for the past four years. He said yesterday: "I will sincerely miss him and our ministry together. At the same time, the people of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux are very blessed to receive a loving and gentle shepherd who will walk with them and lead them in the ways of Christ." Bishop Fabre's demeanor is gentle, but strong. His reputation is being a man who is gentle, but fatherly. His is described a gentle. Considering all that so many of us face, God knows we need a gentle, but strong father. His leadership style is exactly what our Diocese needs.
- Bishop Fabre's Episcopal motto is "Comfort my People." I love that! Bishop Fabre's deepest desire is for us to know the comfort of Christ in the midst of life, real life. How many of us are longing to know that Christ is with us bringing us comfort?
The timing of yesterday's announcement was indeed a surprise. However, that's often how God works. God knows exactly what we need when we need it. God knows you. God knows what you need. God knows when you need it. Trust God, trust that He knows. I promise you, He will come through for you ... after all ... just look at what He did for us yesterday.
GETTING TO KNOW BISHOP FABRE
HIS EPISCOPAL MOTTO: "COMFORT MY PEOPLE"
It is customary for each Catholic bishop to adopt an episcopal motto that becomes part of his coat of arms. This motto serves as a public statement of the bishop's priorities, describing what he intends to achieve in his position and how he will work with his parishioners.
Bishop Fabre selected the motto "Comfort My People," taken from Isaiah 40:1, as a signal of his commitment to the people of New Orleans, many of whom still struggled to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
In an address delivered upon his appointment, Fabre reflected on the challenges facing the city: "I know that life in this great city has changed for so many because of Hurricane Katrina. Your resiliency in faith in response to this tragedy has been witnessed by many…. As so many here in New Orleans seek to rebuild their lives and to renew their hope, it is my fervent desire and prayer that to the best of my ability I will be able in some way to bring assistance, comfort and the assurance of God's love and presence to all who are suffering."