HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR A.
THEME: THE GOD OF LIFE.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul.
“Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel.”
We have been having some essential elements of the Easter celebrations in our Readings; reflecting the sacramental life of the Church. We have had water (water of regeneration), light (Christ the light of the world), and today we look at life in Christ (His power over death).
In the Gospel (John 11:1-45), Mary and Martha are worn out with worry and grief. Their brother Lazarus is sick, on the verge of death, but they have not abandoned hope because the three siblings are friends of Jesus, and Jesus has the power to heal. They have seen Him do it for others, and a message has been sent: ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ Instructively, even those who are loved by God are never spared by earthly troubles. But the assurance remains that though many are the afflictions of the righteous, the Lord will rescue him from them all.
But Jesus doesn’t come as when expected, and their worst nightmare comes true. Lazarus breathes his last, agonised breath. Have you ever felt let down by God? Or confused about why He hasn’t answered your prayers for help? You are not alone. Surely, this is how Mary must have felt. When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead a number of days. When Mary sees Jesus, she falls at His feet and says, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’
How does Jesus respond to Mary’s confusion and grief? In the shortest verse in the Bible we read, ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35). He wept! Whatever the reason was for Jesus not showing up in time, it wasn’t because He didn’t love Lazarus and his two sisters. And whatever the reason is that God hasn’t answered your prayers or removed the suffering in your life, there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of: it’s not because He doesn’t love you. In fact, we read in the Psalms that God holds all our tears in a bottle. Just think of that. Every single one of your tears matters to God. You are so precious to God. It is why in days to come He will go to the cross for you.
There are many things we can learn from Lazarus’ story:
1) God has a plan in mind that we don’t see. Why did Jesus wait four days after hearing Lazarus had died before going to visit the family? God waits for two reasons: a) So our faith can be strengthened. Jesus said, ‘I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe’ (v.15). In life, crises come and go. The next crisis will be different from the last one, but the thing that must remain strong is our faith. b) So God can be glorified. The Pharisees believed your spirit left your body on the fourth day. If Jesus had intervened earlier, they might have said, ‘He wasn’t really dead.’ That’s why Jesus said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.’ When we look back, we see God’s wisdom and will at work in the situation.
2) God will make us deal with issues we have tried to bury. ‘Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha…said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days”’. We might be praying for an answer in one area, while God is saying ‘take away the stone’ and deal with an issue we have buried in another area. When our hearts are aligned with God, our prayers will be answered (1 John 3:21-22).
3) God will make us examples of His grace. Picture Lazarus after his resurrection. Without even speaking a word, his life declared to everyone that Jesus is Lord. And the same can be true for us. God has redeemed and raised us up to be living testimonies of His grace.
4) Whatever we have lost, God can restore. One of the great promises in Scripture is that God can ‘restore to you the years’ that life has stolen (see Joel 2:25). Claim that promise, and ask God to replace, restore, and renew what is been lost. He has the power to do it.
5) Whatever we are bound by, God can set us free. ‘He cried…“Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes…Jesus said…“Loose him, and let him go”’ (John 11:43-44). Today God’s power is greater than any habit, hang-up, or circumstance that has us ‘bound’. The First Reading (Ezekiel 37:12-14) shows this power of God when it says, ” And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves…” Even if we can’t fully understand how it works, let us allow our faith to respond to Him.
6) No matter how bad we feel, God understands. At Lazarus’ funeral, ‘Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”’ (John 11:35-36). This story proves we serve a God who can give us back what we have lost, and also a God who cares about what we are going through (see Hebrews 4:15). So if you are hurting today, turn to Him and let Him help you. The greatest fear of man is not poverty, childlessness, sick but death. And Jesus has conquered death. In Him, we have life. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God raise everything positive in us and related to us that has died through Christ Our Lord Amen. Good morning.
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