How discouraged and desperate Ezekiel must have been! For months he had been prophesying to the people of Israel about the dire effects their behavior was having on their future. Their greed, neglect of the poor, abuse of the weak and worship of false gods were destroying their society and sapping their national identity and strength. Most of the people resisted listening to Ezekiel’s warnings but his deepening awareness of how desperate the situation had become was driving Ezekiel himself to despair, as well as those few who were listening to him.
And thus, today’s prophesy! God gives Ezekiel a vision of a great plain covered with human bones, dry disjointed old bones scattered across the plain. God asks Ezekiel whether these old dry bones can come back to life. Ezekiel wisely responds that only God could possibly know that. Then God instructs Ezekiel to prophesy that God will indeed, bring these old bones to life. As Ezekiel makes the prophecy, the bones do come back to life, human life with warm flesh and renewed spirit.
God tells Ezekiel that all is not lost. Just as God brought new life to the bones in his vision, so God will bring new life to the people of Israel. Ezekiel need not despair, he can trust God’s fidelity to His people. "I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord."
What a great vision! The message God gave to Ezekiel is for us as well. And we certainly need it. Just think about how many old dried bones there are in our lives. We can look around and be so discouraged by the scandals in the Church, the injustice we witness and even experience, the violence in our world, the disappointment, anger and darkness that may even be in our own hearts. So many dried dead bones all around us and perhaps within us. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the dead bones that surround us.
Through Ezekiel God reminds us that even dead bones can be brought back to life by the power of God. And that power will prevail because God will be faithful to us, just as God was faithful to the people of Ezekiel’s time. So we can take heart and trust in God’s love and compassion for us and for our world.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director the Development Office for Holy Cross Province and is stationed at Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago.