The Power of Love
Friday: Twentieth Week of the Year: August 19, 2016
Year II: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 107:2-9; Matthew 22:34-40
The Responsorial calls us to grateful, memory-nourished hope: “Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.”
In Ezekiel 37:1-14 God makes a point of impressing on us that he can bring anything and anybody back to life. And he can do it no matter “how long it’s been since our last confession!” He can do it even when we say, “Our bones are dried up, our hope has gone.” Even when we think we are as good as dead, cut off from the Church completely.
It wasn’t just one set of “dry bones” Ezekiel saw; there was a whole valley full of them. But when Ezekiel prophesied, “the breath entered them; they came to life again and stood up on their feet, a great, an immense army.”
We may hesitate to encourage individual conversions because we don’t see any vibrant, live parish we can invite people to return to. And yes, this is a serious problem. God never intended either human life or the life of grace to be given or to survive outside of a supportive community. How can we win people back to “the Church” if the Church isn’t authentically there to receive them?
God’s answer is, “I can raise them all! I can bring the whole Church back to life. I anointed you at Baptism to be my minister. So get out there and ‘prophesy’”:
Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people….
I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live…. then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD.
Ministers of the Good News are not going to let any bad news stop them. We ourselves are the real news! It is us, and we need to proclaim it until we wake the dead!
In Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus shows his gift for making things short and simple. Asked what the “greatest commandment of the Law” is, he summed up all of the commandments in one — and pointed out that a second is implied in it: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In terms of practical conduct, ours is a two-sentence religion.
What will bring the “dry bones” in the Church to life again? We don’t have to look for all sorts of solutions. Many may be good, of course, but isn’t it a basic fact of our experience that what gives life is love? So how smart do we have to be to understand that the way to bring the Church to life again is to preach love, practice love, pray for love and trust in the power of love in everything we do? Isn’t this obvious?
It is self-evident. The problem is, it is not always evident in our lives or even in our ministry. We still fall into the trap of confusing conversion with conformism and sanctity with strictness. We think we can lead people to Christ through legalism, or at least keep them from going astray. But what is there to stray from if we are not in union of heart with Jesus to begin with? The Scripture says “God is love” (1John 4:8,16). It is only in love that we find him. To look for him anywhere else is essentially idolatry.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Give life through love.