Over the last several weeks now, the Lord has been placing this scripture passage on my heart. As I have been praying with it, I’ve been asking the Lord what He wanted to do with it, why He was bringing it up so often. And the only thing he has kept saying over and over is one word: “Revival.” It’s safe to say that the Church is in need of a revival. The Church is in need of a renewal, a return to the basics of our faith, and a boldness in embracing and using the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
If we look at the Church over the last few years – and I mean the Church in general – this need for revival has become more and more evident. Just look at the state of the Church here recently: attendance at Mass is plummeting, many Catholics are not publicly living their faith, priestly and religious vocations are at an all-time low, and so many Catholics are leaving the Church. Not to mention, a Pew Research Study found that 69% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist – they don’t believe that bread and wine are changed into the very Body and Blood of Jesus at Mass. The Church is becoming – if it hasn’t already become – the Valley of the Dry Bones mentioned from Ezekiel 37.
I would venture to say that many of us in this church tonight have often times felt unfulfilled and unfed when we have come to Mass, been to confession, or received the Eucharist. That’s a problem! It shows us something…that we are all those dry bones. We are the remains of a once fruitful and life-giving people whose enthusiasm for the faith has been taken away in many respects – taken away by the failures of our church leaders, taken away because of our own sinfulness, taken away because of our lack of motivation for a deeply personal and intimate relationship with the Lord, taken away by our lack of listening to the Holy Spirit.
When is the last time we asked the Holy Spirit to move our hearts and our minds? When is the last time that we asked the Holy Spirit to do something bold in our lives? When was the last time we asked the Holy Spirit to unleash His power within us, allowing us to experience the fullness of the fruits of the Spirit that we have received through Baptism and Confirmation? When is the last time we asked for a revival in our hearts or in the life of the Church?
Our Church needs revival. We are dying! We need rejuvenation. We need a new Pentecost! We need to come alive! But it’s gotta start with us!
In the passage we read tonight, notice that the Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy and to command that the dry bones come alive. He’s speaking that to us! The Lord is telling us to call down the Holy Spirit into our lives and the lives of others…and by extension into the life of the Church. Each one of us, by our very baptisms, has been given the gifts of the Spirit and, as a result of that, we, too, can prophesy and speak the words of God into a situation. We can call down the Spirit of God onto those situations. But that starts in our own lives first. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: in what way are my bones dry?
The Lord is telling us to tell our bones to come alive. He wants to breathe into us a new spirit. He wants to give us new life. He wants our faith to come alive in such a way that it brings real change to the world. He wants to put within each of our hearts a boldness to go out and proclaim the Good News and to bring about the conversion of others simply because of our faith. He wants us to go out and bring others to life. He wants to use us as instruments to bring about miracles in the lives of those we encounter.
Do you know what can happen when our faith comes alive and we are open to the Spirit working within us? There are countless stories of people being healed because of something someone said. The Lord has used the prayer of individuals – priests, religious, and lay faithful – to bring about restoration and wholeness.
- About a year ago, I was preaching the homily one Sunday at my diaconate assignment in Boca Raton. I was sharing a story about how the Lord healed my ear. In sharing that story, a woman who was sitting in the congregation – a woman who wasn’t even Catholic – experienced a miraculous healing in her ear.
- A priest friend of mine was once asked to pray over someone who was about to begin chemotherapy for cancer. The Holy Spirit compelled him to pray for complete healing and restoration in this person’s life. The gentleman went to the hospital a few days later only to discover that the cancer was gone. The doctors couldn’t explain it.
These are the things that can happen when we are attuned to the Spirit and invite Him into our hearts. Now imagine how much more hearts could be moved and lives be changed when ALL of us take heed of our call and invitation to be prophets and to speak the Word of God, speak the Spirit of God into people’s lives?! That is the invitation the Lord is giving us tonight.
Tonight, right here, right now, as we come before the Lord in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, let’s ask the Holy Spirit for an outpouring of His gifts into our lives. Ask for:
- the gift of discernment of spirits that we may know when the Spirit is speaking to us;
- the gift of knowledge, understanding, and right judgment that we may be certain of what He is asking us to do; and
- the gift of fortitude that we may have courage to follow His promptings.
Maybe that prompting will be an invitation to pray with or over other people, asking the Lord to bring about healing in someone else’s life, offering others a word of encouragement – whatever it is. We need to be bold in proclaiming the Gospel, we need to be bold in believing that the Holy Spirit is going to do incredible things through us. Let’s ask for that grace tonight, that the Holy Spirit may fill this place with the fullness of his power, to bring our dry bones together and to breathe new breath into our lives. Let’s ask for the grace to come alive.
Talk given on Thursday, October 8, 2020 as part of the ADORE Series at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Indialantic, FL.