Pentecost (Vigil Service) - Homily - Year A
Many today believe that we are about to begin one of the darkest periods of American History. Some believe that the darkness has already begun, and can site example after example of why they believe this be true. There is a feeling among many of you that there has been a progressive destruction of morales and values over the last 40 years in this country, and if fact… the world.
Is this true? Especially in regard to the suggestion of us venturing into darkness?
Only God knows for sure. But I do know that there is great struggle for many and that we do live in a world that in many ways has become deaf to the word of God, and is especially void of his Spirit.
The reading today from the prophet Ezekiel can shed some light on dark times and how we are to respond to such a time. Ezekiel‘s experience of the “dry bones” occurred during the middle of the darkest chapter of Jewish history.
The Jews were in exile in Babylon. The temple was destroyed, and the Babylon exile directly challenged all of the ways that people thought about God.
The exile did away with the simple notion that God would protect his people. It seemed to suggest that God had no people, that God had broken His promise to the chosen ones. All the history of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David appeared to have been simply swept away.
It was the end of the world as they knew it, and things definitely did not “Feel Fine.” These days of exile were ominous days, empty days, and hopeless days.
So when the Spirit of God took Ezekiel to a valley that was full of bones, God wanted to send a perfectly clear message. These were not bones of the newly dead with flesh still upon them, but old, dry bones. They had been there for sometime. This must have been a frightful sight!
And God made Ezekiel walk amongst the bones in every direction. Then God asked him “can these bones come to life?”
I don’t know about you, but my answer would have been “Are you kidding!”
But Ezekiel answered “Lord God, you alone know that.”
Then God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones. God is asking Ezekiel to preach to this hopeless situation, to preach to something that cannot hear, to preach in the face of utter hopelessness.
So what does Ezekiel do…. He does as he is asked and begins to preach. And upon doing so, the bones begin to reassemble, he saw them come-together, bone joining bone, flesh actually formed upon them and skin covered them right in front of his eyes.
And as he continued to preach, as he did what God had asked of him, the Spirit came into them and they came alive and stood upright, a vast army.
God then revealed that these bones were an example of the whole house of Israel, who had been saying that their lives and their future had become hopeless, that despair had already set in, and that they already knew that they had been abandoned.
· How many of us today can only see a negative future?
· How many of us today have had despair take root in our lives?
· How many of us today feel abandoned by others and by God?
Yet what does God say?
“I will rescue you. I will put my Spirit in you that you may live… and you will know that I am the Lord. I have promised, and I will do it!”
So as Christians – We are to always believe in the promises of Christ and of God.
Even thought God may allow our lives and maybe even our world to experience struggle, sadness, pain, and difficulties, we are never to give up.
Like Ezekiel, we are to continue to speak the Good News to others. We are to speak the Christian message of turning away from sin and sinful lives, seeking forgiveness, and then continue the journey toward eternal life.
And like Ezekiel, as we preach the Christian message, the Holy Spirit will come upon us, will make us and others alive, and will turn us and many around us into an Army of Believers.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean that our lives, or our world will always be joyful, or that we won’t experience from time to time some darkness.
But, we as Christians are to be the light in that darkness.
We are to renew the face of the earth.
So to answer that frightening question….. Is this the beginning to the end of the world as we know it?
Our answer is: “Lord God, you alone know that.”
Our focus shouldn’t be on things of this world, but rather on the things of the heavenly world. It is often found that when this world becomes somewhat uncomfortable, that our gaze then begins to refocus on the spiritual world, and then we can see with greater clarity the need to alter our journeys.
God’s ways are not always our ways, and as Jesus proclaimed: “let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.”
Let us allow, on this eve of Pentecost, His Spirit to fill us, to transform us, and just as Peter was transformed on the day of Pentecost, let us be that same witness of truth - that will not only bring peace, comfort, and Joy…… but will give everlasting life.