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outside the box
"The Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation..." —Ezra 1:1
The greatest tragedy in the history of the Jewish people is the fall of Jerusalem and exile to Babylon in 587 B.C. For decades, Jews lived in Babylon with no temple and no hope of liberation. Then King Cyrus became the new king of Persia. Cyrus was a pagan who worshipped the false god Marduk. Cyrus had a policy of settling the territories in his kingdom with those who worshipped the respective "gods" of that land. Some scholars postulate that Cyrus favored religious freedom to curry the favor of the various gods so that his reign would have universal peace.
What a mysterious and mighty God we serve! God delivered Israel through a polytheistic pagan. Then God inspired Cyrus to help fund their moving expenses. The Lord even calls Cyrus His "anointed" (Is 45:1) and His "shepherd" (Is 44:28). Jeremiah proclaims that the deliverance of Israel through Cyrus is an even greater miracle than the exodus through the parted Red Sea (Jer 16:14-15; 23:7-8).
Therefore, never give up hope. No circumstance is beyond God's power to turn to the good (Rm 8:28). No person is too warped for God to use as His anointed (see Is 45:1). "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9).
Prayer: Father, may I never place limits on You. Open my eyes, that I may see You at work in all circumstances (2 Kgs 6:17).
Promise: "To the man who has, more will be given; and he who has not, will lose even the little he thinks he has." —Lk 8:18
Praise: St. Januarius and his companions were unharmed when thrown to the wild beasts.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 1, 2011
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