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The Return of the Exiles

Today’s First Reading and Psalm are about the Babylonian Exile. In 597 BC, the Jews were conquered by the Babylonians and Jerusalem was utterly destroyed. Most of the best and brightest in Jewish society were taken as slaves to Babylon.

Understandably, many Jews felt God had abandoned them. But he hadn’t. Through prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, God explained that, actually, all of this had happened because they’d abandoned him. They’d worshiped false gods, placed their trust in worldly power and forsaken the Covenant. But God also assured them that he hadn’t given up on them. Just as he’d freed them from slavery in Egypt, he’d free them again. Sure enough, around 539 BC, the Persians won a seemingly miraculous victory over the Babylonians and God inspired Cyrus, the Persian king, to let the Jews return to their home country, to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. How is this ancient history relevant to us today? Well, this story is part of a pattern that’s repeated itself again and again. It goes all the way back to Adam and Eve and it’s still happening now. People let themselves be seduced by the world. They turn away from God. And, inevitably, they suffer the consequences. We can probably see how many people in Western society have drifted away from God and it’s one of the main reasons for the problems we’re seeing in the Church and the wider world. But God has already saved us by sending us Jesus Christ. If only we turn to him and open our hearts, he’ll free us from the snares of this world and lead us to the Heavenly homeland that God has always wanted us to have.

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