The First Reading, Ezekiel had a vision of dry bones and God commanded him to prophesy so flesh will cover the bones and the dry bones will live. Ezekiel obeyed and the word was fulfilled. Then God told Ezekiel to Prophesy to the breath and command the breath to breathe on the slain that they may live. Ezekiel did and the bodies stood on their feet. God shows there is always hope when situations seem impossible to conquer. In this case, the bones were dead. There was no flesh. Yet, at the word of God, flesh was formed on the bones and breath was restored.
Therefore, we should not despair when things seem hopeless. When we have sinned against God, when we have neglected him, when we have rejected him before and we realize our error, God will restore us because he wants to restore us. If God can make dry bones have flesh and breath, he can raise us up from where we are, even if we are living in sin. The important thing is to turn to God and respond to what he is doing in our lives. In the First Reading, God said he will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act. God is here, he calls everyone to himself, so he can give us a life that is grounded in him, so we can know he is God who speaks and will fulfill what he says.
In the Gospel today, Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest. Jesus answers: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment because it defines how it is to respond to God’s work in our lives. Jesus adds the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The problem with modern teaching, even within the Catholic Church, is there is a tendency to put man ahead of God. St Pius X warns us about this in his first Encyclical E Supremi when he said: Man, abusing his liberty, can violate the right and the majesty of the Creator of the Universe; but the victory will ever be with God – nay, defeat is at hand at the moment when man, under the delusion of his triumph, rises up with most audacity. Man’s arrogance makes him think he can achieve anything on his own strength without the help of God. Man wants peace without God and according to Pius X, this is an absurdity, seeing that when God is absent, there too justice flies, and when justice is taken away it is vain to cherish the hope of peace. Because many want peace, they form societies and parties aiming at achieving peace. Pius X tells us: there is but one party of order capable of restoring peace in the midst of all this turmoil, and that is the party of God. It is this party, therefore, that we must advance, and to it attract as many as possible, if we are really urged by the love of peace.
Pius X wrote these on October 4, 1903. He foresaw how the world will become and he warned us more than a century ago, that man will put himself ahead of God, thinking he can do what only God can.
The First Reading shows the dead rise because God commands and it happened. The Pope said only God can give peace. If we are searching for peace, if we are struggling with our situation in life, there is only one solution: turn to God. Let him speak his word in our life so we can have life and know he is God. And when we know he is God, then we can love him with our whole person. We can only love others are ourselves when we love God first.
Lord, I come to you confused, broken, frustrated, seeking peace. I have tried to do things on my own, thinking I can solve my problems. Yet Lord, you alone give me life, you alone can give me peace. And I have this peace and life when I allow you to work in me. Lord, I give you permission to work in my life, to speak the word and fulfill what you say.