Fifth Sunday of Lent (A)
The past two Sundays brought us the figures of water and light: 1) water, with the Samaritan woman and Jesus; and 2) light, with the man born blind and Jesus. Today we reflect on life: Jesus calls forth the dead (Lazarus) to life. These things are very important to us. We need water to survive. Without water, we suffer thirst and become weak. Without Jesus from whom flow waters of graces to eternal life, we lose the opportunities of walking in His ways, due to deprivation of God’s nourishment. We need light to see. Without light, we grope in the dark. Without Jesus as the light of the world and of our faith, we lose our direction towards the Father. We need God’s call, so we can proclaim His glory. Without His call to life, we wouldn’t even be here to celebrate or to see His glory in creation and experience the effects of Redemption. Life in Christ is our end, as well as our way to eternal life.
In his vision, Ezequiel talks of God’s people being called forth from the grave of their infidelity to God, to a land that God would give them. Their situation as dead people was then transformed into a situation of living people in the Spirit of God. They would be real people again, and they would become the people of God. He would be their God and would always be with them, for God Himself was the land of promise, and their fidelity was their salvation.
Let us listen to two of God’s declarations:
1. “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them….” (Ez 37:12). Even if this was said to the People of Israel, this is very true for us, for from the graves of our sinfulness God is calling us today. This is true even in the little things in our lives, like, resentment, anger, jealousy, pride, greed and many others. These burden us. Moreover, blame, rash judgment, criticism, brooding: these are thieves of our vitality. In these situations, we dig our own graves, we decay in relationships and we lose contact with the Spirit. They start the process of decay in our hearts, in our relationship with others and with God. They eat up our enthusiasm to perform well and to be better persons. They do not even take away the worries of the future; they only zap or eat up the strengths of today. A decaying relationship with people is also a decaying relationship with God. We cannot claim to have good relationship with God, when we do not have good relationship with our families and with others. Even then, God in his power can give life to our decaying relationships in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. God only seeks compunction and forgiveness in our hearts.
2. “I will put my spirit in you that you may live…. thus you shall know that I am the LORD” (Ez 37:14). God puts His Spirit into our hearts so that we may have the graces of tolerance and acceptance, forgiveness and vitality. Those who accept God’s call will be saved; those who do not accept His invitation have already condemned themselves, because they prefer to remain alienated from God.
Virtues and graces are abundant, and they come to us through the Holy Spirit in Baptism, re-enforced in the Sacrament of Confirmation and renewed in the other Sacraments that we celebrate and receive. We pray that they just do not decay in our graves of selfishness and indifference.
Let us rise from our graves of alienation from God and receive the Spirit of the Lord. In his Lenten message, Pope Benedict XVI said: “In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves – just as she did – in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life” (2011 Lenten Message, Vatican, Nov 4, 2010). Let us rekindle our commitment to prayer, concern for the needy, respect for the elderly and the weak, diligence in your responsibilities, care for the environment, and active participation in the activities of the Church.
The Eucharist that we celebrate and receive brings us to this kind of life that the Lord wants for us: a life full of enthusiasm and passion to be with Him and His Church. By entrusting ourselves to the power of the Eucharist, we allow ourselves to become instruments of God’s loving mercy to bring His plan of salvation to fulfillment. Through the Eucharist, God destroys the selfishness and indifference of the world. With Mary, the first to receive the Eucharist in Her heart and in Her womb, let us commit ourselves again to seek life, light and joy only through Jesus, with Jesus and in Jesus. Thus, the call of Jesus to life will be our constant call to holiness, for just as He is holy, so are we called to be holy.