Friday, November 24, 2006

Ezra as proto-rabbi

"Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel."
Ezra 7: 10

What a beautiful and concise model for religious and priests in the Church: to commit the law to one's heart so as to do it and to teach it for others' good. Surely this is the goal of the monk: to become a living Word, to be so imbued with the teaching of Jesus Christ as to allow Him to be present at all times. This requires a purposeful dedication of energies, especially in the early going. A monk therefore cannot be reasonably expected to be involved in work that distracts too much from this 'study.'

Ezra is normally seen as the first 'rabbi' in Israel. The age of prophecy has ended with the death of Jeremiah and a new way of hearing the Word has been instituted. This is by reading the Scriptures, especially the Torah, and grasping the authoritative interpretation given by the scholars of the law (the 'scribes' in the gospels). Our situation is analogous, except that I would hold that prophecy was re-instituted at Pentecost; the main difference between this new prophesiying and the old is that we are no longer adding to the deposit of the Faith, merely interpreting it. In a sense, we are all descendants of Ezra the scribe.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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