I Will … Bring Them Back To Their land – Ezekiel 37:21
5th Week of Lent
It has become common to think of a prophet as a person who can foretell the future, one who lives an eccentric life and who speaks passionately about obscure topics.
What a caricature! According to Scripture, a prophet is simply someone who hears from the Lord and is able to share what God has said. In today’s first reading, Ezekiel was given one clear and comforting message for the Israelites who were in exile: “I, the Lord, will bring you home.” Not the rulers in the lands to which they were exiled. Not the gods of these rulers. Only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He alone has to power to restore his people.
Ezekiel’s message had a special sense of urgency because the Israelites were living in despair. Their persistent disobedience to God’s commands had finally caught up with them, and they ended up living as exiles in Babylon. Through the destruction of war, they had been banished from the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of the land God had given them.
But even though the Israelites had abandoned God, he did not abandon them. Through the prophet Ezekiel, he promised that he would bring them home. No longer would they be isolated or abandoned. God was going to deliver them, shepherd them, establish peace with them, and live with them forever.
Few of us are living in physical exile, but we all know what it’s like to live in exile far from the Lord. Our “foreign lands” have their own set of idols and their own particular ways that are opposed to God. Sometimes these lands of sin discourage us, divide us from each other, and cause us to get down on ourselves. Sooner or later, we feel as separated from God as the Israelites felt.
That’s why we need to know that Ezekiel’s words are for us. God is with us. His loving gaze is upon us, and his hand is stretched out to rescue us. Patiently but persistently, he is calling to us, asking us to leave these foreign lands and come home to him.
It’s not too late to go to Confession before Easter. Go to the Lord and let him bring you home from every foreign land of sin.
“Father, I want to come home. Nothing compares to being with you.”
(Psalm) Jeremiah 31:10-13