Friday, August 22, 2014

Deaths and Resurrections

In today's first reading we hear from the prophet Ezekiel:

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and led me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain,
which was now filled with bones...How dry they were!

True to form he then goes on to prophesy,

I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them;
they came alive and stood upright, a vast army.

On the surface this prophesy is understood by Christians to be a foreshadowing of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but there is something much deeper going on.

We can go back all the way the original sin of Adam, and trace a path from there to the Resurrection and beyond, a pattern of Gods behavior. Is God a God of justice? Of course. But is God a simplistic God who just rewards the good and punishes the wicked? Think carefully before you answer that one.

What we see when we look at the entire history is a God who is just but also God who never gives up. Even when the bones, as in Ezekiel's vision, are completely dry and seem beyond redemption.

Evil is evil and sin is sin. Let us not kid ourselves about that. But at the same time there is no sin that God cannot use as an opportunity for transforming grace.

Each year at the Easter vigil when we sing the exultet, we refer to the Original Sin of Adam as
O happy fault ( Felix cupla)
How could we be happy about sin? The text goes on
that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

The original sin of Adam led to the incarnation, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus that lead to our becoming more than human. It opened for us the gates of heaven and made it possible for us to be the adopted sons and daughters of God.

In the Old Testament we have examples like the murdering adulterer David, who God made Israel's greatest King. In the New Testament we have the persecutor Saul transformed in the preacher Paul.

Two millennia later God has not changed. Every days around the world God touches lives. Every day God takes someone's sin, someone's dry bones and breathes his Spirit, his Breath into them. And the Army that Ezekiel envisioned continues to expand.

Sometimes the dry bones are visible for the world to see. Other times they are like our bones, invisible to the naked eyes, buried deep beneath the flesh but present nonetheless. Sometimes the dry bone is as small as the staples in your middle ear. Sometimes it is most of the bones in your body, and you feel the ache all over.

Today let each of us turn to God, inhale that Spirit, and allow him revive our dry bones so that we can stand up straight and give praise and glory to God.