A HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE “A” – MARCH 29TH 2020 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
You know, a couple of weeks ago, we thought we knew what real difficulties were. A couple of weeks ago, we worried about Spring Break, where are we going to go and what are we going to wear? A couple of weeks ago we were concerned about getting reservations at our favorite restaurant, or maybe getting tickets to that concert that we really wanted to go to, this summer. A couple of weeks so many of us were thinking about when the video “Frozen II” would be available for home streaming, and we could watch it a gazillion times, and memorize the new songs. And look, “Frozen II” came out early, thanks to the Coronavirus. Something good out of this whole mess. I talked with one family this past week, and they have watched “Frozen II” over thirty times in the last two weeks! Can you believe that?
Now, we have much bigger things to be concerned about. Our whole world does. Much more serious things. More important things. Life and death things. And we come to Mass, and has been the case these last few weeks, the Lent Cycle “A” readings are perfect for us, as we listen to the Word of God. We’ve heard the story of the Temptation of Jesus in the desert. We’ve heard the story of the Transfiguration. We’ve heard the story of the Woman at the well. And just last week we heard the story of the Man born blind. These are all amazing, powerful stories of God’s love, and His concern, and His power, and His grace. And this week, just a week before Palm Sunday, and two weeks before Easter, we hear the story of the Raising of Lazarus. And is this Gospel perfect for us this week, or what?
Everybody in this story is in some kind of serious trouble! Life or death trouble! These aren’t people arguing over where to sit at a banquet table. These people have serious mess. We can relate! Poor Lazarus is dying. We don’t know how, or why, but Lazarus, who we’ve always thought to be a relatively younger man, has something so wrong with him that he is dying. In fact, he dies. And his good friend, maybe his best friend, Jesus, Who was healing people right and left, all over the place, is nowhere to be found, when His best friend needs Him most. Mary and Martha are a mess. They are in big trouble, they love their brother very much, and they don’t want to see him die. They send for Jesus. And Jesus takes His time coming. Jesus Himself is in real trouble. The Disciples remind Him that the last time that He was in Judea, they had tried to stone Him. Jesus clearly has a lot of enemies by this time. And the Apostles are also in serious crisis. They know that things have turned. Things are getting very ugly. And they start to have the realizations, that they are going to Jerusalem not only where Jesus is going to die, but that most likely, they are going to die with Him. Thomas even says, “Let us go to die with Him.” And even all the townspeople are upset over the death of Lazarus. Things are mess here in this story today. Everybody is dealing with real issues and real crisis, and real problems!
And what is it that changes the entire story? It’s Faith! Martha proclaims that she has come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the One who is coming into the world. The Apostles and other followers hear Jesus say that He is the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Jesus has Faith that the Father will hear Him, so He calls out, “Lazarus, Come out of that grave!” And Lazarus, who always put his Faith in God, is risen from the dead after four days! Jesus completely changes the entire situation. And those present that day, come to believe in Him. They come to have Faith, when they see a dead man come back to life, which of course is a preview of what we’re going to be celebrating in just two weeks!
This Jesus is more powerful that death. This Jesus is more powerful than any of our problems, or crisis, or difficulties! In these last days of Lent 2020, a Lent that we’re going to remember for a very long time, we’ve got to remember that this is all about FAITH. Who and what do we believe in? Where do we put our trust? When we face our biggest issues in this life, Who do we want right there with us, hearing our prayers and taking care of our needs? It’s God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has always taken care of His people. This Gospel today is not just about Lazarus’ resurrection, it is about OURS! All our human suffering, and losses, and doubts are reimagined in light of our Faith in Jesus Christ!
May the Holy Spirit give each one of us that kind of Faith to know, that with Him, we can overcome anything, even death itself! Nobody expected Lazarus to walk out of that tomb that day. And yet, he did. There’s a lot of people not expecting a lot out of God today. We know better. Let’s have Faith and watch Him prove them wrong.
+ May God bless us in these last days of Lent as we prepare for Holy Week, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!