today's other readings are Psalm 107 and Mt. 22: 34-40
It's a good thing our first reading was never read to us in grade school during our religion classes. I have no doubt what the class reaction would have been either, "Cool" or else "That's gross and creepy". For some, it might have been the stuff of nightmares. But if nothing else, the story would have caught our attention.
Ezekiel prophesized during the time of Israel's exile in Babylon. After repeatedly turning their backs on the warnings of the prophets such as Jeremiah to reform their ways and turn back to God, they refused. And so Babylon came along, destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple, and took the cream of Israeli society into exile. Today’s reading is about God’s promise to breathe new life into the “dry bones” of a defeated, exiled nation. As the word of God is spoken through the prophet, a defeated people rise up to renewed life.
Israel's history of salvation had been one of repeatedly turning their backs on God. But God had created them, guided them, supported them. And God would save them though when they repented. The many stories of how God would restore them is a constant reminder that God never gives up on us, even if we give up on Him and ourselves. Even when we fail to respond to grace, God is still merciful.