What a wonderful visit today to our Korean parish, St. Andrew Kim. From the minute I arrived I realized these people had a beautiful faith. Their warmth and hospitality complimented by a beautiful celebration of the Eucharist made it a very special day. Of course, it was topped off by a reception and Korean meal, with lots of photo ops with the new Archbishop.
Below is my homily for the day. You can scroll down to the slide show of some of the photos taken during the visit.
On this 5th Sunday of Lent, the readings call us once again to a closer relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel recalls the promise and power of God to raise us from the grave. Then, in John’s Gospel we see the truth of God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus as he restores life to Lazarus by calling him forth from the grip of death.
Life presents many challenges for all of us, and each of those challenges is an opportunity to grow in our faith and trust in God and in our ability to turn to Jesus to find our way. Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus met people of all walks of life revealing more fully to them the presence and power of God. He brought faith to those who did not believe, healing to the sick, he preached with authority to clarify God’s word and commandments, he offered forgiveness of sins and restoration to the community for the outcasts.
In today’s readings, we are faced with another human reality that begs for faith and trust in God. We know that all life ultimately leads to death, and such certainty can cause fear and even questions about what, if anything, lies beyond the grave. As the Church enters the final stretch of Lent, we prepare to recall once again the passion and death of Jesus, and his ultimate power over sin and death in the resurrection that we will celebrate in all its glory this Easter.
In preparation for that moment, today we reflect upon the mystery and reality that in Jesus Christ we have life. He tells Martha in today’s Gospel: “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.” We need only to associate ourselves with Jesus and to demonstrate our love for him and our faith in him as did Lazarus, Martha and Mary.
In today’s second reading, St. Paul further explains how our association in faith with Jesus leads to life. “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirt is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.” (Romans 8: 8-11)
Next Sunday, known as Passion or Palm Sunday, we will read again one of the Passion narratives of Jesus’ passion and death. This will begin our Holy Week celebration, when we will walk ever more closely with Jesus through these final and difficult moments of his earthly life and ministry.
Today’s account recalling Jesus’ encounter with Martha and Mary and raising Lazarus from the dead, is meant to prepare his disciples and us for the faith we need to believe beyond doubt that Jesus is the source of life. We are invited to the profound faith that Jesus indeed has power over all things, even death itself. Today, Jesus is asking us once again to believe in him, to trust him, especially as we face the trials and difficulties of our own life.
We know that Martha, Mary and Lazarus enjoyed a close bond and friendship with Jesus. This too is how Jesus wants to relate to us, and how he wants us to relate to him. A true and meaningful relationship with Jesus keeps our faith firmly grounded, and does not allow us to be content with simple piety, which fails us in the moments when we face the reality of the cross.
If we truly believe that Jesus has the power to raise the dead to life, if we truly believe that Jesus himself rose from the dead, then we have the faith that will see us through any difficulty this life can throw us.
Because we are human, we have our own doubts. Because we are human, there are times when the darkness seems greater than the light of faith. These are specifically the moments and places where Jesus wants to meet us. These are the times when Jesus calls us to come out of the darkness and into the light of his presence. Let us hear again today with renewed faith the words of Jesus: “Lazarus, come out!” As we hear these words of life, let us also be aware that Jesus wishes to release us from all things that bind our faith and our trust in him.
As Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he today offers us the very same freedom from anything that seeks to rob us of faith or diminish his life in us.
My dear friends, know and believe again today, you are a beloved child of God. He comes to set us free and to renew the life of Jesus Christ within us. This gift of Divine Life is precious and meant to be shared. Once Christ has renewed our faith and our life in him, he sends us to be a source of light and life to others. This was the mission of Jesus. This is the mission of his Church. This is now your mission and mine.
Let us rise. Let us be on our way. Let us walk with Jesus each day, with ever growing faith and hope and trust in him.