5TH SUNDAY OF LENT (Ezekiel 37:12-14; Ps 129(130); Rm 8:8-11; John 11:1-45)
Theme: Your Graves Are Opened, Come Out!
My brothers and sisters, within the readings of the fifth Sunday of Lent we can say without mincing words that there is an unending hope for those serving the Lord in Truth and in Spirit. The Word of God reminds us today before the Holy Week that Jesus has power over sin and death. In today’s Gospel, Jesus affirms that hope when He says that our/your sicknesses will end not in death and condemnation but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified. If we are or if we desire to be instruments of God’s glorification, then let us rise and stand against the fear and anxiety of the sicknesses plaguing us this period.
St John Chrysostom notes that those who love God must take no offence because it is part of the lot of children and servants of God, workers and citizens of heaven to bear pains, illnesses, and to suffer in a special and great way like Jesus’ friend Lazarus for the glorification of God and betterment of humanity (Cf John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St John). In fact, St Paul reminds us in Roman 6:3-4 that we were baptized into Christ Jesus and His death; thus, through our baptism we died with Christ raised from the dead through the glory of God the Father in order that we too may have eternal life.
However, it is important to note that Christ Jesus does not diminish the reality and horror of suffering and death. Thus, Christ Jesus is aware of the problem of Coronavirus. Thus, just as He wept for the death of Lazarus, so too does He weep today for those affected by the virus and mourn also with those who mourn for the death of their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. However, it important to note that through Lazarus’ experiences of suffering, death, and rising again the greatest sign of Jesus’ power over suffering and death and His power to bestow new life was manifested. Thus, our endurance of the current plague glorifies God, and it reminds that He has the power to raise us back to life.
Thus, whether we bounce back to life like Lazarus or we die marked with the sign of faith, we must remember the words of Prophet Ezekiel in today’s first reading that our Lord will surely open our graves of covid-19, cancer, HIV, stroke, and kidney failure. He will grant to some a revitalized life which reaffirms His presence and life-giving power; and to others Jesus will grant the fullness of the promise of the resurrection.
However, what matters today our acceptance of Jesus’ invite, rejection of and exit from those graves of sin; and finally, we called to believe and proclaim that in Jesus there is mercy and fullness of redemption. Let us cry out to the Lord and plead for newness of life and spirit.
*Inspired by Fr Geoffrey Plant and Dr Brant Pitre and Prof. Scott Hann