May 21, 2013 by eneubauer
I recently interacted with an individual that was wondering about the meaning of Ezekiel 37: 1-14 during the Vigil Mass of Pentecost. Since I did not attend this Vigil Mass I immediately turned to Ezekiel and read the passage to ascertain its relevance as a reading for Pentecost. Suffice it to say, I was blown away. Not only was this passage interesting in its own Biblical / historical context but it couldn’t be more relevant for Pentecost and the time in which we live – especially in the West.
As a pilgrim follower of Jesus and a convert to Catholicism I love diving into scripture to uncover its meaning. I love asking, “what could God be saying to me?” I will do my level best to describe what I believe God is saying to me (US) and connect that message to the time in which we currently live.
First, let me say this – let’s read the scripture passage in question:
“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’ 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.’ Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
English Standard Version
First, we are reminded that the valley is FULL of VERY dry bones. Second, we see the Lord commanding his servant to “prophesy to the dry bones.” Third, it is in this act of obedience that God “breathes” life back into the dry bones causing them to rise again into their proper form (living, human beings with flesh & blood). The result is that Israel (yesterday) and Catholics / Christians (today) will KNOW that God is the source of their resurrection. It is through this act of grace that we are repositioned into right relationship with our Creator.
Let’s face it – many of us, for a variety of reasons, have been cut off (b/c of our actions & inaction) from right relationship with our Creator. In allowing our relationship with Christ to dry and diminish our collective bones have piled high and we currently lay in a wasteland where the enemies of God reign. Our religious leaders, many of which have been faithful and obedient servants, have been prophesying for years about the negative affects of ideas like secularism, relativism, consequentialism, religious in-difference and a lack of catechesis in the faith. These and other negative or anti-religious forces have coalesced and created their own counter-force that is having a real effect on culture, societies and individuals.
These facts are evident in the rise of the “nones“, the many moral battles being waged with no common ground / no end in sight, and the interior struggles within Catholicism and other Christian denominations in defining / clearly communicating what they believe and why in a culture with an every shifting foundation. These are truly challenging times we live in and one in which all sides have serious opinions. The challenge – each side is yelling and many are refusing to enter into dialogue and / or debate. We are polarized and the consistency of this division is cause for many to struggle with the faith they once embraced.
However, if we can just take time to quiet ourselves in the upper room of our souls we might just hear voice of God, experience the wind of the Holy Spirit and feel the transforming fire of Pentecost. If we allow it these (very real) forces to have their way we can enliven the dry bones of our souls and set a course to become the people God intends us to be.