April 2. Fifth Sunday of Lent, A

Introduction

Sometimes we downplay Christ’s humanity. The most humane of men he felt things deeply. He cried at the death of Lazarus, over Jerusalem and for Martha and Mary. May we similarly feel with those in sorrow, and lets confess any ways we fail in this…

Homily

I was at a funeral recently of a relative killed in a car crash. As the coffin was closed his wife and daughters had to be supported; they were so bent with grief. Christ understands such sorrow. In today’s gospel, when told of Lararus’s death he was so distressed a sigh came from his heart, he burst into tears; no plaster saint, He wept so much, all said “see how he loved him”.

Our most human aspects are our feelings. We’re easily hurt. Christ the most human of men felt inner and outer pain deeply and so he can feel our human pain with us. At the crucifixion he faced the ultimate anguish of being rejected and killed by his own. He did everything in his power to reach them, yet they rejected Him. As Isaiah foresaw thousands of years before: “he was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”. Even the raising of Lazarus didn’t work. He loved Martha and Mary and wanted to ease their pain, and he hoped that raising Lazarus would convince everyone that “God had sent him”. How painful then was their unbelief, their spurning of his love.

Lets not do that but console his heart, accept the saving love of God that he represents. For today too, in pride and arrogance, many still spurn the gentle Savior, like a child spurning a mother’s arms. Visionaries nowadays talk of statues of Christ weeping blood. I’m not surprised. He wept blood in Gethsemane because his people scorned and killed him. Its no different now.

Nietzsche, the philosopher of Fascism and modern secularism, says we must kill God, follow our own will regardless of higher Law. We must exercise power beyond traditional Christian standards of good and evil. But what has this led to, events like Fascist and Stalinist genocides where the rejection and crucifixion of Christ in the form of the weak, has continued. Speaking of his day, Paul says, “they fight against God and his Christ”. Many see the light but still prefer darkness, like the Pharisees at the resurrection of Lazarus. That perversity of human nature doesn’t change. Lets make up for it by our love. As many turn their backs on Christ for godless worldly ideologies of which Satan is lord, let us be faithful. For that sums up our faith, to be his followers through thick and thin.

For what hurt Jesus most was hard-heartedness: “Oh that today you would listen to his voice harden not your hearts”, the psalm says. Lets open our hearts to the lord and work for Him and his church until his gentle grace-filled reign has come in the whole world, a paradise indeed. For he came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. That’s the model for us. To build his kingdom in a broken world – to serve God, community, parish, diocese and all people generously for the good of all. We may say: “I’m too busy, I’ve no talent”. But Christ has no hands now but ours. We have to be his light. For people need to realize in every age that the worldly values and self-centered hardheartedness and arrogance of which Satan is lord are a delusion and a snare. They fade to dust and ashes at last and leave us empty before eternity, our lives having been wasted in useless pursuits, but Christ’s is lord of love, truth and happiness for our joyful and deeper living in this world and our happiness with the Lord of all real life forever and ever amen.

So as Christ’s faithful, his consoling his hands and light to our crying needy world, lets make our profession of faith…

Prayers of the faithful

And as God’s own, faithful through thick and thin, reaching out to people in their need and pain with Christ’s saving light and love lets pray for his kingdom come to the Father of all…

For the church throughout the world, especially our Holy Father the Pope and the Bishops of the church, that they may be totally convinced that God has sent Christ and so convince all people who are out there searching for the meaning, love and salvation..

For the leaders of society today that unlike the pharisees and Romans they may not put obstacles in the way of God’s church and faithful in their service of God, his Christ and all people..

For our wonderful youth who have discovered their full peace and humanity in the church of Christ who is lord of life forever..

For ourselves that in our hearts and homes we may accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior sent by our loving Father in Heaven, and nurture that same faith and love in those under our care, furthering their full life and happiness both here and hereafter.

For those who have lost close relatives that, like Martha and Mary, may they be comforted by God, find peace and healing, and finally be raised up in body and soul to union with loved ones.

For the sick that they may keep faith in the Lord find his healing presence in our love, care and prayers for them…

For the dead, may they be raised up like Lazarus at death and on the last day when Christ will come to raise us body and soul..

We ask all these prayers through the same Christ who raised Lazarus and never fails to raise us up too, amen

Reflection:

I often listen to “The Messiah”. I find especially moving that Isaiah phrase, “He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. In beautiful melody it reminds us of all Christ suffered for us and all who suffer. As we prepare to share Christ’s sorrows during Holy Week, we ask Mother Mary to give us true devoted hearts, to enter into the spirit of Christ crucified and Risen…Hail Mary

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