Daily Reflection
August 22nd, 2008

John P. Schlegel

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Our New Year’s celebration, that season of resolutions and renewal, is four months away; yet that theme seems appropriate on this August day. Our fields and gardens are yielding the fresh produce of a renewed growing cycle—tomatoes, sweet corn and peaches; this campus is experiencing a renewal of activity as our returning students revisit familiar patterns and our first year students renew, with their new excitement and energy, the spirit of the campus. The readings today also suggest revitalization and renewal of spirit as the dry bones in Ezekiel come to life and Jesus exhorts us to practice the greatest commandment at the heart of our being.

Many of us have had times (days, weeks, months) when we have felt helpless, lifeless, spiritless; lacking all drive, ambition or focus. We were like the dry bones in Ezekiel’s reading—lifeless and broken. There are many causes for times such as these, many reasons our spiritual limbs atrophied: broken relationships, financial setbacks, work performance, academic failure, diet or lack of exercise. Of course, the quality of our spiritual life could also be part of the circumstance—our own “dark night of the soul,” or spiritual drought, or we simply are not putting God in God’s proper place in our individual and communal life.

Like Ezekiel, we too, ask, “Son of man, can these bones come to life?” (Can I come back to a spiritual life?) And we, too, meet the response: “You alone know that.” What must we do, so we can hear the reassuring and life conferring words of our creator God: “See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit into you so that you may come to life and know that I am the Lord.”

How we long to hear the consoling words: “From the four winds come, o spirit, and breathe life into them (me) that they (I) may come to life.”

As a covenant people, the Israelites were bound to God to keep the divine statues and listen to the prophets if they wanted God to remain close to them and protect them. The same holds true for us who have a covenant with God resulting from our baptism and confirmation. The gospel holds the key to our spiritual weariness. When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus answers:

“You should love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your minds…and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Just as this double commandment is the source from which the whole law and the prophets are derived, they provide guidance and direction for us in the renewal of our interior life, renewal of our interactions with others, renewal in our religious practices, a deepening of faith and spiritual growth.

If we keep this double commandment in the forefront of our relationship with God, within the Church and within our human relationships, we can hope to hear (in our own circumstance) Ezekiel’s reassuring words:

“Then you shall know that I am the Lord…when I raise you up. I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.”

“I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.”

Wow! What an excellent motivation for our mid-year resolution to renew and revitalize our spiritual life.

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