Sunday Scripture reading, May 23, 2021: A big change is underway
Pentecost Sunday (at the vigil Mass)
1) Ez 37:1-14
Psalm 104:1-2, 24, 35, 27-28, 29, 30
2) Rom 8:22-27
Gospel: Jn 7:37-39
Of the many possible readings for Pentecost (between the vigil and the daytime liturgy, there are 11), two look into our future.
The prophet Ezekiel describes a vision God gave him. He sees a valley filled with bones. God tells him to speak God's word to the bones, and when he does, the bones clatter together and clothe themselves with flesh.
"Then the Lord said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord God: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army" (Ez 37:9-10).
This is a vision of the resurrection that God has in store for us. St. Paul speaks about longing for this ultimate fulfillment:
"We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:22-23).
Resurrection may not occur for a very long time, and most of us (I at least) do not actually think or groan about it a whole lot. But that doesn't make it irrelevant to our lives today.
The Spirit of God -- God's creative power and wisdom who is himself God and is going to re-create us in that distant resurrection -- is with us as we go through the suffering and sorrows of our present life.
The Spirit who will transform us into that totally new way of being is in us, beginning to transform us. The transformation that will culminate in our resurrection starts now in a conversion from selfishness to love.
It may seem rather small scale. We open our heart to the grouchy neighbor next door who is recovering from a heart attack. We choke down an accusation against our spouse and instead ask if there's anything we can do to help. We tell our least favorite co-worker that she really did a great job on the project we just completed.
But in these small ways, which we selfish ones know are not so small, God's new creation is already coming into existence by his Holy Spirit.
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Perrotta is the editor and an author of the "Six Weeks With the Bible" series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.