For us, in these United States, and perhaps in most of world culture influenced by the Enlightenment, we have a cultural aversion to law unless we establish it ourselves. We are so deeply committed to the absolute rights of the individual that the scene painted for us in the first reading is utterly “mind blowing”. These people are listening all day long, and then sobbing in joy and celebrating with dancing and feasting the reception of a pattern of directives that challenged them in virtually every area of their personal and social relationships to address first and foremost the “common good.” Tomorrow’s saint of the day, St. Francis, did not need anything like what the Enlightenment purported. Francis, like Ezra in the first reading, was enlightened by God. And that was enough because it led him to lose sight of himself as the center of the world and focus on caring for the world as the center of his life.
(Adapted from Eileen Burke-Sullivan)