The hand of the LORD came upon me,
and led me out in the Spirit of the LORD
and set me in the center of the plain,
which was now filled with bones.
He made me walk among the bones in every direction
so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain.
How dry they were!
He asked me:
Son of man, can these bones come to life?
The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair....
So begins the woeful, classic story of Casey at the Bat. I've often recited it when, unprepared, I was called upon to say something.
Which of us has not been in deep despair about some hopeless situation? They're not uncommon, and we generally decide to invest our time, interests and resources in some other venture.
What could be more hopeless than a desert valley of dry bones? If you're looking for an army to deliver you from evil, you'll not look there. What could be more hopeless than seeing your Lord and Teacher crucified?
And yet you escorted his body to the grave where you laid him to rest. You returned on Sunday morning, after the Sabbath, to anoint his body, wondering as you went who would roll away the stone. You did not suppose the body would not be there; nor could you imagine what you would do with the rest of your life, now that he was dead. Something drew you to the gravesite, something sweet and beautiful and compelling.
Christians are familiar with despair. The more we expect of one another and the Church the more familiar we become with hopelessness. Writers and editors can do a land-office business as they describe "a people adrift" and "merchants in the temple."
The Lord teaches us through these baleful moments to rely on Him and not on ourselves. We can and should prepare to use our resources well. We can and should plan for success even as so many projects fail.
Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta has reminded us, "We are not called to be successful." -- you can say that again! -- "We are called to be faithful!"