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Cristobal SpielmannMarch 31, 2023
Two people hug reunited in front of a wall Photo from Unsplash. Credit: Melanie Stander.

A Reflection for Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will take the children of Israel from among the nations
to which they have come,
and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land. (Ez 37:21)

Find today’s readings here.

2023 seems to be the year in which everyone is coming back together, what with the last specters of the pandemic fading from most of our lives and the long-awaited return to the office for many more. How serendipitous for today’s first reading to be about reunification.

In this selection from the Book of Ezekiel, we are told the story of the two sticks, signifying the joining of Joseph and Judah into one land of Israel. They will no longer be divided by the sins of idolatry or other transgressive differences, but will instead be united over a common love for God, who will in turn shepherd them through David.

That image of a reunited family as a bundle of sticks has stuck with me while going over today’s reading—evocative of a fasces—got me thinking about the reconciliation many of us are going through in Lent.

With the coming signs of Easter around the corner, the time seems appropriate for reconciliation.

This is not just in the sacrament. It is also in fixing lost connections with friends and family, connections lost for divisive reasons mentioned in the reading. And this reading got me to think of how much of our popular conception of rewiring those connections is that they arrive at the last minute before death—also partially inspired by the incoming theme of loss in Holy Week.

After all, is death really a motivator? At least when it comes to rewiring lost connections, I think it is only halfway there, and not an especially useful focus for conversation. For that, we should focus on what today’s reading outlines as a uniter, that being a sanctuary under God.

The joy of life is not to live secluded from everyone else for the most minute of differences so that we can get more from the table, so to speak. Life is better lived with a singular cause in mind, not with solitude in flesh. Our faith is and has always been based in community. With the coming signs of Easter around the corner, the time seems appropriate for reconciliation. It is an opportunity to bundle our sticks together, regardless of our divisions—be they from time or identity—and be brought back to the church.

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