Fr. Rick’s Homily Fifth Sunday of Lent
March 26, 2023
Ez 37:12-14; 130:1-8; Rom 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45
In the gospel today, Jesus, rather curiously, waits just long enough for his friend Lazarus to die before he goes to his aid. Jesus wants everyone to know that beyond a doubt Lazarus had indeed died in order to demonstrate the power God has over death. It seems like a very heartless strategy, but Jesus understands that humans have a very difficult time trusting in God completely unless they are absolutely convinced of their own helplessness. When we feel like we are just left hanging, with perhaps life and death in the balance, we can be assured that God is with us and stretching us to the fullness of life for which we have been created.
Sometimes we feel like we are ‘dead’ long before we quit breathing or pumping blood. We might feel like we are trapped as in a grave where it seems that we will never feel or see the light. This actually happens to different degrees in most people’s lives, perhaps several times. As our life experiences expand our knowledge and emotional baseline, we often feel challenged to rethink things a bit in order to keep growing and maturing. This is a choice, however, that is not automatic. We may choose to hang on furiously to our current world view and bind ourselves in the world that seems most predictable or manageable. Hopefully in such cases we have people in our lives that will look for Jesus and call on Him to help us become untied or unbound, come out of our premature graves and live a renewed life. Our coming out will also change others’ lives as in the case with the gospel today.
The readings today speak not only to individual awakenings but also community and national awakenings. The prophet, Ezekiel in the first reading is speaking to a nation coming out of exile in the Babylonian desert after the destruction of Jerusalem. They have lost everything and now have the opportunity to rebuild, but they must be sure to follow the path that God has laid out for them. God has addressed their interior and exterior needs. A new sense of hope is as essential as the physical building. Their identity as a Chosen and Holy people is renewed. Their vision and purpose is restored.
We can think of many aspects of our individual, community and national predicaments. How is God present in all this? And what blessings have we already received? What ‘new’ truth might God be wanting to teach us as He lets us linger in the grave or the desert??
What is holding us in a premature grave? What is binding us? Do we have people in our lives who will help us call on Jesus and trust in His mercy and love? Why do you suppose getting help from Jesus often seems to take so long? How will we share our new life with others who may be just bystanders or sceptics?
Answering these questions can provide the core of our witness to family, friends and others as believers and disciples