02 April 20175 Lent

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
5 Lent
Fifth Sunday of Lent - Cycle A
John 11:1-45

A patient asked Dr Karl Menninger what he should do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on. He expected the famous psychiatrist to respond, "Call me immediately." Instead, he said, "Go out and find somebody in trouble and help that person."

I go to many funerals. It goes with the job. Often a dead man's friend gives a eulogy. Invariably he says, "We come here not to mourn a death but celebrate a life." I say to myself, "Buddy, if you're not mourning, you're in the wrong church." Jesus shed copious tears at Lazarus' tomb. He wasn't celebrating his life. One wag said, "Christ cried so loudly He woke Lazarus up."

This Gospel reveals much about the generosity of Lazarus and his sisters toward Jesus. He overnighted with them often. He felt their home was His house. "Nuestra casa tu casa." There He could chill out. They would summon Him to a lasagne and chianti supper after a nap. They would spend the evening playing Scrabble. Next day He would leave refreshed.

It could be said of this family what Wordsworth's friend said of him after his death, "Thou had for weary feet the gift of rest." We would do well to copy their style. In the Bethany family's case, the guest was the Christ. We shall have to be satisfied with a surrogate Christ. "Be not loath to entertain strangers," wrote Paul, "for thereby some have entertained Christ unawares."

Also, when Jesus received the sisters' messenger asking Him to return to Bethany, there was a price on His head. It would be unhealthy for Him to return behind enemy lines. Yet, He rolled up His sleeping bag and moved out of the mountain's safety.

Lazarus was in trouble. He would go to his side no matter the consequences to His person. He believed Woody Allen's dictum that showing up is two-thirds of life. This beau geste says much about the character of Christ. It tells us that we can expect the same consideration from Him also. It suggests He would have us help others in trouble. A sorrow shared, said Shakespeare, is a sorrow halved. You know now whose game plan Dr Menninger was following.

The Lazarus story informs us that the Savior hated death. His weeping is evidence of that. Jesus reveals to us that God is upset when nasty things happen to people whether saints or sinners. Jesus is the God of life and not of death. He came to do battle with death and vanquish it. Ezekiel today tells us this welcome message from God. "I will open your graves and have you rise..." If we comprehend the Lord with another mind-frame, then we are stuck with a faux Jesus. The genuine Christ longs for the hour when death will go belly up for each of us. Check what Jesus says to Martha. "I am the resurrection and the life." The Galilean emphasizes He is the God of the living. Why do we keep saying over corpses lying in our middle aisles, "Eternal rest grant unto you." Is it not more correct to take our cue from this Gospel and say, "Eternal life grant unto you."? Jesus never said, "I am the resurrection and the rest." If we think of Heaven as a place to collect bedsores, why not dress the dead in cheap pajamas from Wal-Mart rather than in expensive traveling clothes? Obviously Jesus thinks of Heaven as a place where we go to party hearty and look our best. To make Heaven otherwise is to make it dullsville. No wonder even the best of us are loath to quit this present existence. Who wants to go to a dull party that goes on for eternity?

Martha replies to Christ that she knows her brother will rise down the road. Jesus replies sharply, "I am the resurrection and the life." So, if Jesus becomes the mainstay of our lives, we can experience resurrection in the now and here. Who really wants to wait for a resurrection years away?

We say what Jesus did for Lazarus was super. Was it? In Heaven, every tear is wiped away and all pain removed. Why would Lazarus want to leave paradise and return to earth with all its problems? Furthermore, he would have to die again. Once is enough. I wager an angry Lazarus said to Jesus as he came out of the tomb, "With friends like you, who needs enemies?"

Jacqueline Kennedy, who unhappily for her was an authority on death, said, "The Catholic Church is at its best at the time of death. Its message is that death is not the putting out of light. It is rather turning off the lamp because the dawn has come."

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
5 Lent
Fifth Sunday of Lent: Come Out of That Tomb!

As I was preparing this homily, I was thinking of Lazarus in the tomb and somehow my mind started considering man caves, you know, that place where the man can have his own space. Then the question came to me, "If men have man caves, what do women have?” So went to that source of all useless knowledge, Google, and asked the question: If a man has a man cave, then what does a woman have? Among other answers I got: 1) She has the rest of the house including all the closets. 2) She has the shopping mall. And my favorite: She has a neanderthal.

Actually, contrary to what most people think, women are always welcome into the man cave, as long as they bring cold beer and pizza.

Well, Lazarus really wasn't in a man cave. There was nothing comforting about the place they put him after he died. It was a tomb. But then his consciousness returned. And he heard a voice. It was the voice of Jesus calling him out of the tomb. And Lazarus left the tomb.

Come out of the tomb, Lazarus. You don't belong among the dead. The Lord of Life is present. Come out of the tomb all you Lazaruses, or is it Lazori. We don't belong locked up with the dead. We are in the Spirit, as St. Paul tells the Romans in today's second reading. Our sinful actions can kill us. Our bodies can be destroyed by sin, but our spirit, our sharing in His Spirit, gives us life, His Life.

"So come out of the tomb and return to life,” the Lord demands. He calls, "Come out of those tombs that you have put yourselves into.”

What are those self inflicted places of isolation? What are our tombs? Perhaps the tomb is a man cave where there are immoral things viewed on a screen. Maybe the tomb is a woman cave of self-pity. Maybe we are in a cave of self-doubt, a cave where we question our right to be among people who seem to be so much better than us, better wives, better husbands, better priests, better Teens, better Catholics, just all around better people. Maybe we are in a cave where we delight in suffering from wrongs done to us in the past, caves where we refuse to forgive. A great line a missionary once shared with us is : Holding grudges is taking poison and hoping that someone else will get sick.

Whatever our caves may be, we don't need to be rotting there. "Come out!” Jesus calls. Come out and come into life. Jesus is more powerful than anything holding us back, including our sins. He is more powerful than the forces around us and within us that are trying to destroy us.

When Lazarus was called from the tomb, Jesus said to Martha and Mary and those others present, "Untie him.” Unbind him. When someone is called from the tomb, the Lord says to us, "Unbind him. Unbind her.” Just as we have been freed from the bonds of sin by the Life of the Lord, we have to go to the cemeteries of the world, and unbind those suffering from the terrors inflicted by an immoral society. We have to call them away from their sins, their weakness, their anger, their addictions, their hatred, and their self-loathing. We have to call, "Come out of your tombs and come into life.” And then we have to care for them, re-affirm them, let them know that God's mercy is infinitely greater than our sins. We have to tell them, "You don't belong in the darkness, you belong out here in the light. You don't belong among the dead. You belong among the living. We have to untie them so they also can be free to live.

Life is Worth Living Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, Bishop Sheen, entitled his Emmy winning TV show. Life is Worth living when it is lived united to the Lord. Life is full of beauty, full of joy, when it is united to Jesus Christ. So, " Come out of the tombs,” Jesus says to the world and to us. "Come out of the tomb and come into my life. Come into my Joy.”
Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
5 Lent
Best Lent Ever Week 5: If You Died Today
(April 2, 2017)

Message: Invite Jesus into your home, your life. If you and I were to die today, that's the one thing that would matter.
Today we celebrate the fifth and final Sunday before Holy Week. We still have two weeks to make this the Best Lent Ever. Here's the question: If you died today, what would you wish you had done differently?

In Resisting Happiness, Matthew Kelly observes, "If you went to the doctor and she told you...'You only have six months to live,' you would live the next six months very differently than you were planning." He adds, "Most people get no warning. They are alive one minute and dead the next."

As we listen today about the death of Lazarus, it's good to ask what you and I would do differently in light of our own inevitable death. Matthew Kelly interviewed hospice nurses concerning what dying people talk about. He lists 24 things they say they would have done differently. I'll let you read them all, but three stood out:

I wish I had loved more.
I wish I hadn't spent so much time chasing the wrong things.
I wish I had thought about life's big questions earlier.

Today Martha asks a tough question. In grief over her brother's death she asks about Jesus' absence. "If you had been here my brother would not have died." Jesus speaks to her about the future resurrection. For Martha that seems distant. Jesus then gives her the great revelation: "I am the resurrection and the life."

In other words: resurrection, eternal life is nothing more - and nothing less - that a relationship with Jesus. That relationship begins here and continues in heaven.

To believe in Jesus, to have a relationship with him, means more than intellectual assent - and it means more than a one-time acceptance. It's an immersion in Christ. St. Paul says that if we die with Christ in baptism we will rise with him to new life. (Rm 6:3ff) Jesus for his part speaks about eating his body and drinking his blood in order to have eternal life. (Jn 6:53-54)

Take note of Jesus' relationship with Lazarus: He stays in Lazarus' home. He loves him and his two sisters. He refers to Lazarus as "our friend." Standing before Lazarus' tomb Jesus weeps. "See how he loved him," the people say. And Jesus says, "Lazarus, come out!"

With the example of Lazarus I invite you to put into practice what we've been talking about this Lent: A time of silence - ten minutes, maybe more, maybe less - a daily relationship with Jesus. Invite him into your home, your life. If you and I were to die today, that's the one thing that would matter. Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life." Amen.
Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
5 Lent
Fifth Sunday of Lent,
Classic John 11: 1-45

Gospel Summary
In John's gospel, Jesus is first and foremost the one who gives life. In fact, the whole purpose of the gospel is "that believing you may have life in his name? (20:31). From this perspective, the raising of Lazarus from the grave is merely a preview of the definitive victory of life in the resurrection of Jesus. In human experience, death has always been the dragon that eats up our hopes and spoils our plans and casts a shadow over even the brightest days. But Jesus came to slay that dragon, and he will do this by means of a power that at first sight seems hopelessly inadequate. It is the power of loving. "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus? (11:5).

This means that God loves us also. This divine power is now made available in our world through the presence of Jesus. In response to Martha's grief, he announces that he is "the resurrection and the life.? Such and absolute statement means that his loving has taken him beyond the reach of death. Death is no longer an end but merely an episode on the journey of life. When Jesus sees how his friends are burdened by grief, he himself gives way to tears and, deeply moved, goes forward to challenge the awesome power of death. When Lazarus comes out of the tomb still bound with his burial wrappings, Jesus says, "Untie him and let him go.?

This command is an echo of the divine command of God to the Pharaoh to "let my people go? (Exodus 5:1) and, long before that, to the power of darkness to "let there be light? (Genesis 1:3). God has always stood for freedom from bondage and darkness. And we can escape the dark shadow of the dragon if we choose to participate in the love that liberates. Life Implications When we feel the cold hand of death upon us, whether it be through the loss of a loved one or in the experience of our own mortality, we feel so helpless that we are often reduced to an anguished, "Why?? or "Why me??

At such times, we can identify easily with Martha when she said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.? Of course, Jesus is here all the while. It is just that he is more concerned with a life that is so much more important that this fragile existence that we call life. When Jesus asks us whether we believe in his presence and power, we will be able hopefully to answer with a firm "Yes.? Jesus responded to the anguish of Martha by a powerful theological affirmation: "I am the resurrection and the life.? But we learn a few verses later that Jesus moved toward the raising of Lazarus only when he noted the tears of Mary. Her accepted human vulnerability and her total trust in Him are models that assure victory for us too over all the forms of death and darkness. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Modern Sunday,
April 2, 2017 John 11: 1 - 45

As we near the end of Lent we have the Gospel of the death and resuscitation of Lazarus. For Jesus, his disciples, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, the path to this miracle is full of emotion. These are emotions that show the humanity of Jesus and the emotions that make of life for each one of us. It begins with the faith that comes out of a desperate need. Mary and Martha send word to Jesus that Lazarus was ill. This was no simple illness, but one that Mary and Martha saw as serious and it moved them to ask Jesus for his help. They were friends of Jesus and they had faith that he could cure this illness. Jesus waits two days before telling the disciples that they were going back to Judea. The disciples seem to react with fear and Thomas reminds him that they just tried to stone him there. With Jesus there is not fear, but the determination to do a mighty work that would prove to those of faith that he truly is Messiah and Lord. Jesus is greeted by Martha while Mary stayed home, mourning.

This is a reversal of roles from the visit of Jesus to their house and Martha complained to Jesus that she was doing all the work while Mary was spending time with Jesus. Now it is Martha who leave the work behind to spend time with Jesus. Martha?s greeting includes an act of faith, "If you had been hear my brother would not have died." Little did she know that death itself could not stand in the way of the power of Jesus. His knowledge of what was to happen did not prevent his heart from being moved with sadness as he experienced the grief and tears of Martha. He then responds with a teaching of who he is, "I am the Resurrection and the life?.." Mary joins them and makes that same act of faith, and as Jesus stood with Martha and Mary they began to weep.

This is followed by the shortest verse in the entire Bible, "And Jesus wept." It is a verse that tells us so much about Jesus. Jesus, who knew that Lazarus illness would not end in death, but that he would bring him back to death, was not exempt from human emotion. By now had crowd had gathered to see what Jesus would do and they follow Jesus, Martha and Mary to the tomb. They take the stone away from the tomb expecting the strong stench from the decomposed body of Lazarus to permeate the air, instead as Jesus calls Lazarus, it is he who emerges from the tomb alive.

Sadness, fear, disappointment and grief are soon forgotten as they witness this miracle and are reunited with Lazarus. We experience difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible situations in life, and very often we cry out to Jesus to help. This Gospel reminds us that Jesus is with us even before we cry out, and he is journeying with us through the situations and emotions that fill us. In the end it is Jesus who cries out to us to "come forth" to look and see how he is with us. Sometimes it is in the unexpected "miracle", others it is in the subtle presence that moves through us and quietly leads us on. Either way, Jesus is with us at the times we feel the most disappointed and abandoned. As we approach Holy week may we be able to truly unite these sufferings in our lives with the sufferings of Christ, and experience the presence of Christ in our lives in new ways. Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
5 Lent
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Homily by Father Alex McAllister SDS

We have another miracle taken from St John's Gospel for our consideration today, it is the account of the Raising of Lazarus. This miracle is unique to the Gospel of John and it is perhaps a bit puzzling as to why it was not included in the Gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke.

It is not as if the writers of the Synoptic Gospels omitted the fact that Jesus could raise a person from the dead since they all record how Jesus raised Jairus' daughter and St Luke also contains an account of the raising from the dead of the Widow of Nain's Son.

One possible explanation for the omission is that since the Synoptic Gospels are considered to have been written well before John's Gospel it could have been that Lazarus was still around and it was not felt necessary for them to include such an obvious miracle. We know that a lot of details of Jesus' life had to be left out of the Gospels and it is obvious that each of the writers had to pick and choose very selectively from a vast amount of material.

Presumably Lazarus had already died for a second time when John got down to writing his Gospel and so he felt it worth recounting the story. But there may be other reasons too because John includes only seven miracles which he calls signs; namely, the Marriage Feast of Cana, the healing of the Royal Official's son at Capernaum, the healing of the paralytic at Bethesda, the Feeding of the 5,000, Jesus walking on the water, the healing of the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus. Apart from the Feeding of the 5,000, all of these miracles are unique to John.

My own belief is that the Synoptic writers were more concerned to write a straightforward narrative of Jesus life whereas John was more interested in seeing its theological significance. I think that John, writing a long time after the events, and having plenty of time to reflect on them, understood the significance of miracles such as the Marriage Feast of Cana with its Eucharistic overtones which the other Gospel writers were not able to see.

In the case of the Raising of Lazarus there is an additional reason for its inclusion, because John realises that it was the event which prompted Caiaphas to suggest to the Council that it was expedient for one man to die for the people. As it says in verse 53: ‘from that day they were determined to kill him.'

And so, in his Gospel, the Raising of Lazarus becomes the event which precipitates the Crucifixion. John, of course, is well aware that this raising from the dead of Lazarus is a very clear foreshadowing of Christ's own resurrection.

There are lots of interesting details which make John's account a very credible story. One of these details is the delay. After hearing the news of Lazarus' illness, Jesus stays two more days before leaving for Bethany. One can't help but think that this is quite deliberate and that Jesus knows that Lazarus will die in the meantime giving him the opportunity to raise him from the dead.

As we approach Good Friday we are invited by the Church to consider death. The death and raising of Lazarus shows us that Christ has definitive power over it. Realising that the Raising of Lazarus was the proximate reason for the arrest of Jesus helps also to understand the importance of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection as the definitive action which completely breaks the power of death in the world.

By his dying on the Cross and then by rising from the dead Jesus bursts through the ultimate barrier. By this action, he completely forgives us our sins and opens up for us the way to Eternal Life.

Here we have the very essence of the Christian faith. The death on the Cross of the Son of God and his resurrection from the dead is what brings us human beings our ultimate liberation leading us to our definitive union with God in heaven. It is this, the greatest of all the Christian mysteries, that we celebrate at Easter and which becomes for us the highlight of the whole year.

The account of the Raising of Lazarus is therefore an important preamble to the Easter story. And in it we see many aspects of the personality of Jesus, most notable of these being his great sensitivity towards Martha and Mary. When Martha goes to greet Jesus, she does so with an admonition in her voice. She says, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died.' But she also expresses her faith in him when she adds, ‘But I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.' It is as if she has, in a very polite way, invited him to raise her brother from the dead.

Jesus immediately responds saying that her brother will rise from the dead and then goes on to say, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.' This wonderful statement of his power which we repeat at every funeral must have filled her and those around with immense hope and expectation. As the story goes on Jesus continues to show deep compassion to Martha and Mary and indeed his sigh as he enquires where Lazarus is lying communicates the fact that he really cares about their suffering and loss. Lazarus truly is his friend and he grieves for him just as much as anyone else does.

We see then that Jesus is a man who is completely at home with his feelings. He shows no reticence when it comes to expressing how he feels and he is easily able to show compassion and understanding of the feeling of others around him. When Lazarus comes out of the tomb Jesus characteristically uses the words, ‘Unbind him, let him go free'. By these words, Jesus shows us that death is something that contains and restricts us while what he brings will ultimately release us from all our bonds.

In this way, we see that our resurrection will be the ultimate granting of liberty to us. It will allow us to soar freely and be united with the one who is the source of all freedom, the source of all life and happiness.
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