First Reading: Ezra 6:7-8, 12B, 14-20
King Darius issued an order to the officials of 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.” The elders of the Jews continued to make progress in the building, supported by the message of the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus and Darius and of Artaxerxes, king of Persia. They completed this house on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. The children of Israel–priests, Levites, and the other returned exiles– celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. For the dedication of this house of God, they offered one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs, together with twelve he-goats as a sin-offering for all Israel, in keeping with the number of the tribes of Israel. Finally, they set up the priests in their classes and the Levites in their divisions for the service of God in Jerusalem, as is prescribed in the book of Moses. The exiles kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4AB, 4CD-5
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the LORD.” And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD. According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.
Gospel: Luke 8:19-21
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
The Danish “hygge” and German “Gemütlichkeit” are two words that cannot fully be translated to English and often get reduced to “cozy,” “homey,” or “comfort,” though none of those are quite right. The words conjure up a warm and festive holiday memory or a safe, happy gathering with loved ones on a rainy evening. I like to think of them as describing the opposite of homesickness.
Homesickness can strike at the most unexpected moments. Feeling separated from the people who love us, the places that comfort us, and the touchstones of memory leaves jagged edges on our hearts that are hard to heal. The Israelite exiles in the First Reading had an even greater struggle: they felt separated from God, Whom they had experienced most deeply in the Temple. We can understand the joy of returning to their home city, to the Temple, and to the offering of the Passover lamb. We are also asked to participate in this homecoming every time we celebrate the Mass.
In the Gospel, Christ offers us a home together in Him. What is required of us to be joined to the family of God? It’s simple: “to hear the word of God and do it.” Being part of the family of God—the Communion of Saints—offers us a place at the Eternal Feast. Participating in His paschal sacrifice at the Eucharist is our ultimate homecoming.
I’ve been immensely blessed with a tight-knit, loving family here on earth. Many others have not. No matter where we were born or who raised us, we are reminded that our true home, the true source of “hygge” or “Gemütlichkeit,” is not the material fabric of our lives. Our ultimate home is that which is found in Christ—offered through trust and action.
We partake in that nourishing supper of the Eucharist until, one day, we return to our eternal home and join the family table in Heaven.
Are you feeling alone, far from home, far from love? Find your place at the table—in the Eucharist and in prayer and deed. Let Jesus welcome you home into His family.
Brigid Hogan loves the view of the Washington Monument from her apartment, her standing desk, the Green Bay Packers, and a good mystery. She tolerates taking the Metro to the office, where she works as a communications consultant. You can find out more about her here.