WITH ST. MARY'S
THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Death will allow us to be glorified with Christ.
FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Every human being who ever lived, who is alive, and who will live is going to experience death. Some have theorized that the frightful guarantee of death has led humans to construct religions or beliefs to comfort or to explain away the inevitability of death. Regardless, there is one objective truth about death: it is not wanted. The purpose of life, from the smallest living things to human beings, is to preserve one’s life, either personally or through progeny. Death is something we try to stave off, but eventually it comes for us all. God did not desire death to enter into the world, but through our sin, it did. Now, His Divine Will has included death in each individual story of salvation; through His power, though, He has turned death into both the way in which He exists in solidarity with us and how we can live in Him.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
The last Gospel we hear before Palm Sunday is the greatest sign of prefigurement to Christ’s power over death - the raising of his friend Lazarus. So many details in this story point to the inherent humanity of Jesus Christ, while at the same time perfectly embodying the divine power and wisdom he exercised. Lazarus was a dear friend of Christ, perhaps one of his closest and best friends. He was equally close to Lazarus’ two sisters, Martha and Mary. He knew that Lazarus was sick, that he was going to die, and he even knew when Lazarus died. He refused to be present. In the moment, this angered and confused his friends and family; if Christ had consistently shown that he had the power to heal, why didn’t he go immediately to one of his most beloved friends when he was sick in order to heal him? In their minds, Christ let Lazarus die. Martha even tells him this through a mixture of mourning, confusion, and respect for Christ. Mary could not even find the strength to greet Christ on his way to Bethany. When we experience the death of those we love, as we all do, one of the immediate questions that arise in our hearts is why? God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving; how could He allow us to mourn in such a way, and how can He allow holy and faithful people to experience such a consequence of sin? The story of Lazarus reveals an important detail: Christ mourns with us. He weeps as we weep, he longs for the company of the dead just as we long. He mourns the fact that death exists in the first place as a consequence of sin, then he mourns that it takes the ones he loves personally, as well. This story was necessary to prove to the crowds and to his followers one thing before the events of Holy Week: death is the one thing that has power over all humans, regardless of class, race, religion, or other, yet Christ even has power over this. He calls Lazarus to come out of the tomb. Lazarus was not hiding, or faking, or even sleeping. He was bound. He was embalmed. He was dead. And he came out alive.
God promised this power over death to the Jews, as we hear from the book of Ezra. He will open our graves, but first He had to open His own. Christ brought Lazarus forth from his tomb so that we could be absolutely sure that it was possible for him to come out of his tomb. Christ’s death was real, just as Lazarus’. He had to be raised, but it was God who raised him. It was the Holy Spirit, the same spirit that exists within us, that marks us as among the living, that prevents us from existing solely in the flesh. In poverty or riches, in power or weakness, we will all be buried in the tomb of death with nothing from this life to show for it except for the Spirit that we allowed to exist within us. This is the Spirit that will lift us to new life. It is the Spirit of Resurrection.
Family activity to do at home: This week, you will recognize that throughout the church, and even in the offices and classrooms, that all religious images and statues are shrouded. This is to remind us that we have entered into the most solemn weeks of the year before the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. This is not meant to be done just at churches; with your family, go throughout your house and honor the focus we must have on the sacrifice of Christ in these next few weeks by making coverings for religious articles. You can learn more by clicking the link below.