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Vigils Reading

November 7, 2022


 REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE, from a Commentary on the Book of Ezra by St Bede the Venerable[1]


Those who united their efforts to rebuild the temple, worked with such unanimity, says holy scripture, they “worked as one man”. May we be always able to imitate such noble conduct, each in his or her order, while building holy Church. Note, and carefully remember, how much good the exile brought to the people: never before had they shown such eagerness in the accomplishment of their religious duties as they manifested on their return. And today many who live negligently in the peace of the Church suddenly err and commit some shameful deed; but it turns out for their good because after their fall they repent and begin to serve God more vigilantly.


Therefore all the people returning from Babylon to Jerusalem worked diligently at the restoration of the temple, especially the Levites and the tribe of Juda. Thus it was the tribe of the priests and that of the king who played the principal part in the construction of the temple: a beautiful image of the double dignity, royal and sacerdotal, of the Church.


“So at last the masons laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple. There stood the priests in full array with their trumpets; there stood the Levites and the whole people raised a great shout thanking the Lord. Among the priests and Levites and chiefs of clans there were many older persons who had seen the earlier temple when it stood built there, and they cried aloud in lament, while these others shouted aloud with joy.” (Ezra 9:10-12) What joy indeed to see the temple, which had been destroyed, now being rebuilt! What tears, what sorrow to see how the rising walls differed from the magnificence of the first temple which witnessed to the power of Solomon. It is true that the prophet said: “Bright this new temple shall be, he tells you, as never the first was” (Ag 2:9), but this superiority did not lie in the size or the adorning of the building; it lay deeper, because it was a greater miracle and evi­dence of the divine power, that a few captives, despite the opposition of their enemies, could carry out such a work, while the opulent king Solomon who had no adversaries and enjoyed the help of the rich and powerful king of Tyre and the services of skilled workers, had only to command and his wishes were carried out.


“Nothing would serve the neighboring folk after that but they must thwart Juda’s purpose and interfere, as best they could, with the enterprise”. (Ezra 4:4-5) It is easy for anyone to see that this applies allegorically to the Church: disbelievers seize every opportunity of hurting her, both by false accusations and by force of arms; they do not scruple even to secure the support of non-Christian powers against her.


“But the God of Israel had still the prophets, Aggaeus, and Zacharias son of Addo, to give his message to the Jews, now that they had returned to their own country and city. With these prophets to aid them, Zorobabel son of Salathiel and Josua son of Josedec did set about providing the Lord with a sacred temple at Jerusalem”.(Ezra 5:1-2) Let us admire the spirit of these prophets, who commanded the temple to be rebuilt against the orders of the king, against the Samaitans, against all the people round about who tried to hinder the building. But also admire Zorobabel and the people with him, who showed no less faith in listening rather to  the commands of the prophets, than to the interdict of the king.

    [1]From the Expostion of Esdras & Nehemias–Trans. from Lectionary & Martyrology, ed. Encalcat Abbey, Dourgne-Tarn 1956, 408-409.


November 7, 2022
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