Fifth Sunday in Lent

Can These Bones Live?

From the Book of Genesis we remember the origin of human life:

then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.   (Genesis 2:7)

In order to live we need God to breathe his Spirit into us. To be raised from the dead, we need that same spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote:

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit,[b] since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.   (Romans 8:9-11)

Life and the resurrection come from the same source. Jesus makes this clear when he speaks to Martha, the sister of Lazarus who had died:

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.   (John 11:21-26)

It is God alone who sustains life and God alone who renews life.

The nation of Israel had forgotten the source of their life and strength. They had forsaken the law of God and chased after foreign gods. All this left their land in waste. On their own it would be impossible to recover. The Prophet Ezekiel realized this. When the Lord asked whether the bones, in the vision which God set before him, could live again. He could not say, but he knew that God had the answer because God was the only one who could breathe life into anything.

 God spoke to Ezekiel:

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”  (Ezekiel 37:1-6)

Our nation has gone after false gods. We are incapable of repairing it. Only God can restore and strengthen, and even redirect. We must simply pray. God is asking us to prophesy over our nation before it is too late. Yes, if we are prayer warriors then we are prophets. We must pray for our leaders rather than continually criticizing them.

What about ourselves? Are we like dry bones? We must return to the source of our strength and life. Jesus is that source. He is the resurrection and the life. Let us live and believe in him.


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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, Lent, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year A

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