Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
which consisted of men, women,
and those children old enough to understand.
Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,
he read out of the book from daybreak till midday,
in the presence of the men, the women,
and those children old enough to understand;
and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
My Dear Friends,
Let me begin by saying that I don’t want to hear any complaints if the Mass goes longer than an hour! Not only did Ezra keep the people from daybreak to midday, but during that entire time he was reading from the book of the law. I struggled to sit through an hour-long Canon Law class without becoming drowsy!
On a serious note, what struck me in the first reading was that the people; men, women and children, were attentive. This reflects a realization of the importance of the Law to the people of Israel. For those who struggle with finding law exciting, for the faithful of Israel as for the Christian, the Law in not arbitrary, but is intended to lead one toward our God who is Love.
The Law and the scriptures find their fulfillment in Christ as we hear in today’s gospel. In order to fully understand this fulfillment and its correlation with our lives, we must take into consideration the entirety of scripture and the full intent of the Law, not just cherry-pick the parts we like. Only when we allow the scriptures and Law to take root in our hearts will the fulfillment of Christ’s mission be found in us!