Matthew 22: 34-40
Do you really believe that life is more powerful than death? Do you really believe that good overcomes evil? For all people, these real life questions must be answered regardless of what religion one may be. All of us have had experiences of evil and good, and of life and death. And interpreting these experiences as they actively affect our belief systems is a requirement for all people.
We see the same theme in the scriptures today. Ezekiel, in that famous prophecy over the bones has the ability to prophesy over the bones and call them to life. It happens in a time when in Israel there seems to be absolutely no hope. Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians; exiled in a foreign land. In doing so they had lost everything that the LORD had given them for the past 1000 years. They had lost the land, the temple, the ark of the covenant. They started out as slaves in Egypt and now they found themselves as prisoners in another foreign land. They were in a most hopeless situation. It is here, in the midst of hopelessness that Ezekiel begins to speak. If God can take bones, old dried up dead men’s bones and put flesh on them and bring them to life with spirit—- If God can do that in an absolutely hopeless situation, then what can God do in your situation? Because your situation isn’t nearly as bad as decayed bones.
Today’s gospel is the third in a series to trap Jesus. It starts with Matthew 22:15, "Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech" So Matthew gives us three accounts of how either the Pharisees or the Sadducees will try to trick Jesus. The goal is to get something against Jesus, something they can charge him with, a way to get rid of him. When they bring a very well educated scholar of the Jewish law up against Jesus. This man is certainly not looking for a change of heart. What he and his colleagues are looking for is a way to trick Jesus. They are playing a head game. Jesus’ answer takes the question to the level of the demand and choice to love.
It is a most challenging answer. Because when I am in a situation of darkness, when I feel completely lost and I don’t know where I’m going, when I’ve tried every option and possibility I could ever imagine, when I’m surrounded by an ocean of hopelessness, will I have the conviction to love?
Does good really overcome evil. Is light really more brilliant than darkness? When I’m surrounded by death and darkness how does my belief system respond? Do I buy into the hopelessness? Or do I find a way to love, to breath life into the death of the situation? Today as the church remembers the Queenship of Mary, we look to her as a model of one who discovered hope and believed in it.
What is the situation or incident of death which the Lord is asking of you, bring life into death. Breathe life into that situation of death.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is on the staff of Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, California.