Mortality and the Purposes of God
Reflecting on The Third Sunday of Easter: Two Days after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 121
Old Testament: Ezekiel 1:26—2:1
Epistle: Acts 26:1-18
Living God, long ago, faithful women proclaimed the good news of Jesus' resurrection, and the world was changed forever. Teach us to keep faith with them, that our witness may be as bold, our love as deep, and our faith as true. Amen.
He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you (Ezekiel 2:1).
Not one of us is going to get out of life alive. Years ago when I was in seminary, a professor said that during one of his lectures. I’ve never forgotten it; in fact, I often use it at appropriate times. Life is a journey toward its ending. Cemeteries are our destination.
We spend much time attempting to hold death at bay as long as possible. We try to eat right, and attempt to get some exercise. If you have the money, cosmetic surgery will take away the wrinkles, and dye will hide the gray on our heads; but try as we may, death comes knocking at the door sooner or later.
All things end. It’s not just human beings. Creation itself will one day, billions of years from now, end with a big crunch or a fading, thin whisper. Some have seen such finitude as proof that there is no purpose to the universe and by extension, human life itself. They agree with the writer of Ecclesiastes who says that all life is futile (1:2).
We are mortal. God addresses the Prophet Ezekiel as mortal. The literal phrase is “Son of Man,” which is a Hebrew way of saying “mortal.” God, the Eternal One speaks to the mortal Ezekiel. That the eternal God speaks to the mortal Ezekiel giving him the task of preaching to the people of Israel demonstrates that mortality does not lead to futility. Even though we live only a handful of decades, God is with us and in the mix of human history. In fact, God loves creation so much, that God will not allow creation to end, but in God’s own good time he will renew it. St. Paul writes to the Romans, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (8:19-21).
Our mortal life will end, to be sure; but it is a purpose-filled life. That is why the Psalmist could say to God,
Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:16-17).
Life matters. God has made it so.
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