Ez 37:1-14; Ps 107:2-9; Mt 22:34-40
Indeed, like the psalm proclaims, we are the redeemed of the LORD. We have been redeemed from the hand of the foe and gathered in from foreign lands, from east and west, from north and south. Our future inheritance is already our Rebirth Right, in Baptism we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and born again from above. We went astray in the desert wilderness, in the land barren and uninhabited we were in dire straits; yet, The LORD rescued us, by his Incarnation and by his Cross. Even after the wondrous deeds of the Paschal Mystery, still we wandered; we sinned—turned away from our glorious inheritance. Such wandering in hunger and longing only deepens our gratitude for the mercy and wondrous deeds of the LORD for his children in distress. Today we join Mary, the Mother of God, and all the saints around the throne of the Father and the Lamb and inspired by the Holy Spirit we cast down our crowns before his majesty as an endless act of wonder and worship to delight in his glory, our glorious inheritance.
The spirit of prophecy is alive and vital in the New Testament. This gift manifested itself in the Acts of the Apostles, and Saint Paul numbers it among the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the early Church. Such a gift still startles and summons us to new life. We can imagine the hand of the LORD moving the Blessed Virgin to walk among the plain filled with bones. We, too, sharing in such a prophetic spirit walk among the sadness and devastation of sin and vice even in the Church today. As we walk in prayer among the bones of our brothers and sisters in the faith, the LORD asks us what he asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones come to life?” This time, however, we know what Ezekiel could only glimpse. We know the full splendor of the mystery of Pentecost. We can, therefore, respond to the LORD’s inquiry. “Yes, LORD, these dry and weary warriors can arise only in the power of the Holy Spirit!” In confidence we stand before the LORD and his question and wait to hear the noise of rattling, to see the sinews and flesh, and to feel the mighty breath of the Spirit come from the four winds. All too long have we stood before our brothers and sisters in their shattered and lifeless presence! All too long have we lain upon the plains ourselves, dry and weary, helpless and hopeless. Now, in this celebration, something new is happening. As the LORD promised his people of old through the Prophet Ezekiel, now He fulfills his promise. He opens the graves of our sin and concupiscence, and we rise to new life. He brings us back to the Promised Land, and we are his glorious inheritance, a light in the darkness of our despairing and desperate world. He puts His Spirit in us, and we live here and now in the brightness of future glory, we have abundant life.
Any power in heaven or on earth, any power that does not come from love and leads to love is destructive power, dark and demonic power. It is not the power of our King, Jesus the LORD. The Pharisees and the Sadducees, who historically would never have come together in public or private, were united against the Lord Jesus, and they were very public about it. Together, they used all the power they could to oppose the Lord and prove that he was dangerous and threatening to the faith of Israel. Indeed, he was no threat; he was and still is the fulfillment of the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The holy covenant that the LORD made with his people, all the law and the prophets are represented and fulfilled in the ministry, teaching, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. When a scholar of the law tested him about the greatest commandment in the law, the Lord responded with a one-word answer, “love”. To love God, completely and totally, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is the fulfillment of the greatest commandment of The LORD. Such a simple and uncomplicated commandment is not beyond the reach of everyone in Israel, indeed of people in every time and every kingdom. The divine simplicity of this directive makes holiness accessible to everyone here at this liturgy and to everyone we will meet after Mass today. The people at the time of the Old Covenant no longer needed to depend upon the Pharisees and the Sadducees, rather, they could depend upon the Lord Jesus who taught them the true meaning of obedience and the power it brings into our lives. Now, we have the power to freely offer ourselves in sacrifice for love; now, we have the power to fulfill the command of the LORD in spirit and truth all the days of our lives.