“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin 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 it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’” (Ezekiel 37:1-14, New International Version)
It is clear from the context that Yahweh is not speaking here of a resurrection from the dead but of the restoration of Israel as a nation.
As we read this dramatic passage, we can transpose its images to our Christian situation. God, through Jesus, is for us too a source of new life. But, through our infidelities, that life can become effectively dead in us. Spiritually, we become dry as dead bones.
Jesus said that he had come precisely to give us new life, life in greater abundance. He made this promise many times in the Gospel and proved it by the new life he gave to so many people by raising them from death, by healing them of incurable diseases or disabilities, by liberating them from the power of evil influences.
We have been given new life in baptism but we need to be constantly renewed in heart and spirit. May the Lord never cease to pour his Spirit into our hearts.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:2-9, New International Version)
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40, New International Version)
If it had been me, would I have had “oil in my lamp”? That is, what would I be able to show the Lord in terms of Gospel-centered living? Maybe we think the “sensible” girls in the story were selfish not to have shared their oil, but there are some things which we have to bring to the Lord on our own. We cannot borrow the good life that someone else has led. It is has to be totally ours.
Clearly, the best way to prepare is not to think anxiously of the future but to concentrate on the here and now. Let us learn to live totally in the present, to seek and find God there. If we can do that, then all the rest will take care of itself. And, whether the Groom arrives early or late, it will not matter. Because he has been constantly part of my everyday life. And, apart from the insurance that it gives, is it not by far the best way to spend our days?