One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

April 01, 2006

The Mass for the Scrutiny of the Catechumens on the Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 11:1-45

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, when we shall witness in the Gospel the last days leading up to the death and burial of Christ.
Today in the Gospel, we are present at the death and burial of a man named Lazarus.
We witness today the deep and truly human feelings of Jesus who weeps like any man at the tomb of his friend Lazarus.
At the same time the mystery of Jesus who is eternal God is also present.
Jesus, a true man who mourns a friend’s death, is also eternal God who takes charge, shouts at a dead man, and orders him to come back to life.
We are now completing the days of our Lenten penances, and we approach the yearly festival of Christ handing himself over to death so that our sins may be forgiven.
Today in the Gospel, we can see how to open ourselves up to Christ— not only for our own good, but also for the good of others.
Most of the Lord’s miracles involved strangers.
Today, however, Lazarus whom Jesus raises from the dead is not a stranger, but an intimate friend of Jesus.
Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, as friends of the Lord, have already to some degree let down their defenses before the Lord.
We know there is mutual vulnerability and affection between them and Christ.
When the Lord arrives at the tomb of Lazarus and sees Martha and Mary brokenhearted there, he himself begins to weep.
The Lord himself has let down his defenses.
When someone dies, all his defenses are torn down, and his vulnerability in EVERY dimension— PHYSICAL, SOCIAL and SPIRITUAL—is completely and definitively exposed.
He can no longer act for himself.
In such a case, all the initiatives are in God’s hands.
So, today the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, calling himself the Resurrection and the Life, carries out an act of divine authority and power.
He orders the people to open the tomb, and he shouts at the dead man.
LAZARUS, COME OUT!

We ourselves may have once been SPIRITUALLY dead.
Any of us, through sin— “mortal sin”— any one of us could die spiritually.
Perhaps each of us may know someone who at this very moment may be spiritually dead.
In one sense the spiritually dead are the opposite of the physically dead.
The spiritually dead have raised raised a wall of defense between themselves and other persons, God in particular.
The physically dead have lost all their defenses.
Their vulnerability is raw and total.
However, in both cases, the spiritually dead and the physically dead cannot act for themselves.
They need the prayers— AND THE GRIEF AND PENANCES— of others who ask God to intervene with authority and power.
Martha and Mary are grieving, vulnerable and exposed.
The Lord sees them mourning at the tomb of their brother.
They had begged the Lord to come earlier.
Now we see something wonderful.
The Gospel now testifies twice that Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
“Jesus wept.”
He himself let down his defenses and exposed his vulnerability.
The Lord Jesus can be moved.
We can do penance for others, entrusting them to the authority, power and mercy of the Lord.
As we do penance for others— or for ourselves— we can take courage from the words the Lord spoke to Martha and Mary as they cried for their brother.
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 you believe this?

Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?

Penance can be a sign and an instrument of our faith that Jesus is our resurrection and our eternal life.
Penance is a sign and instrument of our faith that Jesus will raise us up from the dead when he returns to make heaven and earth new again.
As a sign and an instrument, penance is also a real sacrament.
The sacrament of penance opens the tombs of our hearts for God, and invites him to shout at us with authority and power, “Come out!”
Our own sins are reason enough for penance; but there is more to penance than that.
Penance peels open the eyes of our hearts and minds, preparing them to see the glory of God, as he promises today:
Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?

In the Eucharist today as always, we receive Jesus who has a deep human heart, and who wept in sorrow because his friend had died.
In the Eucharist we also receive eternal God who shouts at us to leave behind the stinking cave of sin.
By the Eucharist, God will one day order us to rise from the dead so that we may have his gift of eternal life in our own flesh and blood.
With our naked eyes, we shall God in glory face to face.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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