Ezekiel 36: 23-28
I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Work and effort are good things —indispensable in the Christian life. The price of our freedom is the requirement to use that freedom productively. Yet, our efforts do not produce the Kingdom of God through their own power. The Kingdom of God is a work of the Spirit which far outstrips our own efforts to create it.
In today’s passage from the prophet Ezekiel, God promises through the prophet to gather the people of Israel from among the nations and re-establish them in their own land, living by the statutes of the Lord. God’s action, though, will not limit itself to the external work of their national fate. More essentially, God will touch them in the inner self, changing their hearts through His own power to save. It is appropriate that this passage from Ezekiel is followed by Psalm 51, the Miserere, which pleads: “a clean heart create for me, O God.” This is a beautiful psalm to pray after going to confession because this change of heart is exactly what we seek through the sacrament. We desire the descent of the Holy Spirit into our hearts to create some space, however minute, where the Kingdom of God can reign.
—Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.
Lord, what can we expect when we implore you to create within us a clean heart? When we ask that your Spirit be within us? What do we expect of ourselves if we sincerely pray such words? No doubt, a clenched grip will give way to a relaxed opened hand to give and receive. We will be mindful of our infinite importance to you. We will look back aware of your companionship along the way, and we will look forward with hope despite the murky and rising waters before us. We will risk the approval of others to stand true for your principles of integrity and goodness. So, Lord, we are ready to ask for a clean heart. “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!