Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sunday word, 06 Apr 2014

Felt-Knowing, Surging Wonder, Being Loved
Lenten Sunda5 A (06 April 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
If you want to have or give a short description of Scripture’s purpose, here’s one in nine words:

Scripture discloses God, present to the world, by humans.

The ways they disclose God are prophetic: not narrowly “to predict” but “to reveal,” to make known. Prophet means spokesperson.

They communicated in language and actions. Their language and actions dripped with vision, symbol, poetry, parable and myth. Jesus’ remark to his disciples captures those: I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening.1 We don’t think their way, why Scripture puzzles us to say the least. More important than our puzzling is this: by the visions the prophets beheld and heard they stood in heaven with their feet rooted on earth.

So it was for Ezekiel. God granted him a vision at the lowest point in Israel’s history. God showed him God would transform God’s defeated, deported people and give them new life. My people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Those words summarized the vision.

What was the vision? It inspired a song we know.

     Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
     Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
     Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
     Now hear the word of the Lord!

     Foot bone connected to the ankle bone
    Ankle bone connected to the leg bone
    Leg bone connected to the knee bone
    Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
    Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
    Hip bone connected to the back bone
    Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
    Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
    Neck bone connected to the head bone
  Now hear the word of the Lord!

   Dese bones, dese bones are gonna walk around.
  Dese bones, dese bones are gonna walk around.
  Dese bones, dese bones are gonna walk around.
  Now hear the word of the Lord!

No anatomy lesson for Ezekiel. He saw God’s promise. God’s promises are not ones of logic but of vision. Ezekiel believed God would bring them back and by God’s spirit give them life and purpose.

Temptations not to believe have always lurked among us. We heard in her grief Martha almost succumbed to them. The dead man’s sister, said to Jesus when he ordered Lazarus tomb opened, “Lord…there will be a stench; he has been dead four days.” Jesus said…“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” She saw!

Lazarus may have been the last “living dead” before Jesus. A vision of a valley of “living dead” with bones, sinews, flesh, skin, breath2 and lively purpose kept Martha and countless others awake not to slumber in disbelief. They were in awe of God’s life giving promises. Their awe and longing moved them to believe.

That word again: believe. To believe outstrips logic and mannered knowledge. Believing in Messiah Jesus is steeped in sacraments; it drips with vision, symbol, poetry, parable and his pattern of living. ‘I believe’ means I respond to God, to God who reveals and gives God’s self to me.3 Response language is relationship language. It speaks being touched, moved, grasped, renewed; it is the heart’s felt-knowing, surging wonder, being loved. Because it is relational it is personal. It is never private. No prophetic visions are given to a person as private property. They give access to God, who always invites others to respond to God’s life and love.

The church of Jesus—you and I—will soon recall his passion and death with deep devotion. Will we be awake with wonder and emotion at what Jesus did for each of us and all people? Will we stay connected with his dying for our very lives? That is our outlandish good news. “Outlandish” for it defies our logic. “Good” because it is the vision our triune God has had for us before time began.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Lazarus to present you to Jesus. He gave Lazarus a new lease on life and new purpose to live it.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising for you; allow yourself to feel touched, moved, grasped, renewed or loved by his passion for you.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to respond more freely to him in others.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, lead us not into temptation on our lips, are not limited to wrong actions. They beg to live awake by Jesus’ vision and to share it by our lives.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Luke 10.18.
  2. Ezekiel 37.7-10.
  3. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 26.

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