- Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
As we draw ever closer to the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord, the high point of our liturgical year, the readings for the fifth Sunday of Lent home in on the issue of our own Resurrection. The question of eternal life and resurrection has been asked by Christians since the foundations of the early Christian community. This is a dogma that developed over time, not one that has been handed down since the beginning of human and salvation history.
The first reading from the Book of the Prophet, Ezekiel, is a case in point. The verses that we will hear proclaimed tomorrow come immediately after the scene in which Ezekiel prophesies over the bleached bones of the soldiers of Israel. Ezekiel comes upon the battle scene and gazes upon the field of battle littered with the bones of the fallen. At first, Ezekiel witnesses the "reassembling" of the bones, sinews, muscles, and skin of the fallen warriors. However, when he is bidden by the Lord to prophesy to the Spirit of God, the bodies are resuscitated.
This scene is offered to the people of Israel who are living in exile under the subjugation of Assyria. It is meant as a moment of encouragement, assuring those enslaved that one day God will bring them back to the land of Israel and restore them. As such it looks ahead to the truth that all men and women will one day rise from the dead. Notice in tomorrow's reading how the "land" of Israel plays an important part in the prophecy. This is a story of the restoration of the Chosen People.
"I will open your graves." (Ezekiel 37:12c) The grave in question here is not the grave of a buried person. It is, rather, the slavery of Assyria. As we listen to these words, however, we cannot escape the thought that this is exactly what has been promised through the resurrection of Jesus. As our creed proclaims, we believe in the resurrection of the body. We believe that the soul and the body were made for each other and that they will one day be reunited in resurrection to enjoy life with God forever if we place our faith in Jesus and follow the commandments to love God and love our neighbor. This truth is clearly announced by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)