It is hard to hear that first reading without breaking into f “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones. Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones. Dem bones dem dry bones; Dem noisy dead bones.”
Although we are inclined to take it as an assurance that our bodies will be reassembled in heaven, in reality it wasn’t about that. It was Ezekiel back in 580 BC assuring the captive Israelites that they would return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city.
The Gospel comes from that year when the leading factions in Jerusalem were each taking a hand at tricking Jesus into saying something that they could use against him in court. The Sadducees and the chief priests had each failed in getting Jesus to incriminate himself.
When this Pharisee asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment the Bible said the Pharisee did it to test him. He was hoping Jesus would say something that violated Israel’s rigid religious laws. It is interesting how Our Lord’s answer impressed the man with its simple beauty.
In St. Mark’s account of this incident, the Pharisee was sincerely impressed with Our Lord’s answer, and he complimented Jesus for having combined love of God and love of neighbor into what made up the one greatest commandment.