March 26, 2023: Fifth Sunday of Lent (A)
Lenten Reflection: (Gospel: John 11: 1-45).
With the digital world at our fingertips, we are constantly being “bombarded” with all sorts of news and information through the various social media channels and the internet. We may instantly learn about events affecting the world in faraway places. Often these events affect how we perceive the world around us. With all the chaos and turmoil that we see and hear about, it’s no wonder many of us feel scared and confused. Even as people of faith, we sometimes find ourselves so overwhelmed and absorbed by the “noise” of these worldly events that we become unable to hear the “voice” of God and begin to lose hope. There may be no real sense of relationship between us and God. Almost inevitably, our spiritual life may begin to “die-off.”
As we continue our Lenten journey, we repeatedly hear the Church inviting us to escape to the “desert” with Jesus and to take the time to examine our lives and our own struggles – both physical and spiritual – through the lens of our faith. Through our Lenten practices, we are called to seek the Lord in a more serious and committed way and to draw closer to him. This “desert” with Jesus offers us a way to “silence” our minds and hearts and to focus our attention on what really matters – our spiritual wellbeing. When our spiritual wellbeing is at risk, our faith is also at risk; and we can easily be overcome with grief and hopelessness. We then may begin to experience, as it were, a spiritual dryness that would eventually end in a “spiritual death.”
In today’s readings, however, we hear that not all is lost. Just when we think there’s no hope, God shows us he has the power to bring back to life. Things don’t have to end in sorrow, despair, or even death. He can renew our spirit and restore it back to life; even after lying in the “tomb” of hopelessness and despair. In the Gospel reading the Lord asks: “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” This Lenten season, Jesus wants to continue the work of life he has started in those of us who believe. And in a very special way, he accompanies those who are preparing to receive the sacraments of initiation. We hear Jesus’ words to us: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Do we truly believe Jesus?
Since the beginning of Lent, we have been constantly reminded that there’s no time like today to seek the Lord and to find new purpose and hope; even as everything around us seems to be falling apart and our hopes and our spiritual lives dying: “. . . Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Cor. 6:2) The Lord wants to revive us and bring us back from our own spiritual death. Jesus wants to “. . . open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.”
As we continue our Lenten season let us not lose hope. Let us trust and believe in God’s promises for a renewed spiritual life and a more intimate relationship with him. Let us repent and ask for mercy and forgiveness; because “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” May we find comfort in knowing that the Lord continues his saving work in us to the point of a renewed “life” with him. That even among the “noise” and chaos of this world, we may be able to hear Jesus’ voice loudly crying out to us: “Lazarus, come out!” – bringing us back from a spiritual death; so that hope may be restored in our lives and our faith strengthened, and so make us ready to celebrate his resurrection and our salvation! Amen.
Deacon Francisco Gomez