August 19, 2016
The LORD asked the Prophet Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones come to life? I answered, “Lord GOD, you alone know that.” . . .
As Ezekiel followed the LORD’s directions, he heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them. . . .
And so the LORD commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and he said: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. Ez_37:1-14
The Pharisees questioned Jesus “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Mt_22:34-40
If we gathered from the readings today, just a hint of the topic of Resurrection and Everlasting Life, then, we pretty much got the point.
In our first reading, God uses the Prophet Ezekiel, like all the prophets, to warn the Israelites to keep their focus on the LORD. And even though they had already been exiled to Babylon, God has Ezekiel paint a picture of Hope for those captive Jews.
It was a picture of new life.
It was a picture of resurrection.
But this resurrection would not just be a return – to the bones and bodies of their old lives. It would necessarily include a Spiritual revival as well . . . A whole NEW life, that included a Spirit of Love for the LORD and for one another.
It’s the perfect example for our Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation . . .
Where, out of our own flesh and bones, that were once Spiritually deprived, God fills us with His Spirit of Love and Life.
Our Gospel reading today begins with the prelude: “When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees . . .” But we’d have to read the preceding section to understand what that “silencing” was all about.
You see, many of the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. It was a very controversial topic between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. But using the very Scriptures that the Sadducees reverenced, Jesus made it clear that God “is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
It was the Pharisees’ – “Moment of glory.”
And to affirm Jesus’ knowledge of Scripture and the Jewish law, the Pharisees then asked Jesus what the most important commandment, of some 613 Jewish laws, was. It was one of those freebie, extra-credit questions, because all Jews knew that the Love of God must engage the entire person: Body, Mind and Soul.
But Jesus then extended His answer by including the Love of Neighbor. You see if we were to break down the original 10-Commandments into two groups, we would find exactly those two categories: The first 3 Commandments, involve the Love of God, by respecting His Name, His Place and His Day, and the last 7, the Love of neighbor, by treating each other with respect, dignity and equality – as Children of God.
Jesus tells us that all the other 611 commandments are based on these two Loves! And it’s these Two Loves that will lead us to that Resurrection and Everlasting Life.
And you know what, we don’t even have to wait for death. We can experience the Resurrection of new Life in the Spirit of God every day!
All we have to do – is let go
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