Homily, Lenten Sunday 5A
I sometimes wonder if Lazarus was ever upset with Jesus, for raising him from the dead. Almost all of us only have to die once, but someday, after the events in today’s Gospel, poor Lazarus would have to die a second time. Then again, maybe Lazarus was especially grateful to Jesus that he was given a sort of practice run the first time through. Do you think Lazarus might have lived any differently—after experiencing death—from how he had lived before?
We’ve all probably heard of people having near-death experiences. Some of us here may have even had a few ourselves. Consistent in almost every account is that these brushes with death often bring about a change in perspective. A heightened awareness that life is really very short and that death is always encroaching, that each one of us is terminal in a very real sense, no matter how healthy we might appear to be right now. For many, the current pandemic has also brought an awareness of our mortality to the forefront of our minds, and that’s not always a bad thing. This perspective can help us to better appreciate what a great gift each and every moment of life really is, and how so many things that we tend to worry about and put so much time and energy into are really not all that important in the larger scheme of things. And so many of the things that we tend to take for granted are never guaranteed.
Personal comfort and convenience, entertainment, nice cars and bigger houses, even our reputation and social status, all these things will be pretty useless at the moment when we stand naked before the judgment seat of God. We won’t have any excuses to hide behind, only the truth of what we did or did not do with the life and the time that God entrusted to us.
So are you ready? Am I ready? Or are there still areas of our life where we are fighting against God, insisting on our own way or the way of the world rather than the Way of Christ and His Church, the Way of the Cross? There’s a lot of talk today about various problems in the world, but so often our focus is on the symptoms and not the actual cause. We talk about corrupt systems of government and public policy, we talk about war and violence, terrorism, disease, and disasters. Even death itself is merely a symptom. But until we actually address the real cause of life’s problems, until we see sin for what it is, as the real problem, and our rebellion against God’s design and plan for us and for His creation as the root cause of all our other ills, we will not be able to move much closer to any actual solutions, to any lasting peace.
With the time that remains in this season of Lent, let’s move beyond just working on the symptoms of our disordered lives, for a temporary, cosmetic change, and instead, invite Jesus into the depths of our hearts, into the stench of our tombs, into the rottenness of our sins and habits of sin, that He might set us free and raise us to new life. The time of mercy is drawing to a close, and the end approaches quickly for each one of us. The opportunity is now. Let’s not waste it.