Thursday, April 4, 2019

Fifth Sunday of Lent Year C (RCIA Option Year A)

Readings: Ez 37: 12-14; Rm 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45

Life and death; hope and despair are the key words that sum up the message of this Sunday. All three readings this Sunday lead us to meet Jesus who is the resurrection and the life. It is around this central theme, that the Church celebrates the third Scrutiny with those preparing for the Easter Sacraments. In the prayer over the candidates this Sunday, the presider says: "Free from the grasp of death those who await your life-giving sacraments, and deliver them from the spirit of corruption." The readings remind us of real life experiences of the destructive forces of death in real families. We are reminded of the pain of death faced by millions of people every day all over the world. The prophet Ezekiel in the first reading prophesies hope for the devastated nation of Israel, urging them to look beyond the destruction of Jerusalem to a new future, when God’s Spirit will restore Israel. If you are facing grief, brokenness or strife in the family, there is good news for you. Like the prophet Ezekiel, you and I are challenged to give hope and comfort to those who encounter the shattering effects of death, despair and brokenness in the family. We are called and sent to counteract the forces of death and give hope and comfort.

In the perspective of stewardship, the episode of the raising of Lazarus to life offers three challenges. The first challenge is the initiative to respond to God’s grace. At times when we are spiritually dead, we need someone to roll away the stone that blocks the door of faith and trust, so that we can begin to be alive again and breathe the fresh air of God’s grace. Indeed we are our sister’s and brother’s keepers; we are stewards of our brothers and sisters. It is a sin of omission to see your sister or brother spiritually dead (in a state of sin) and choose to do nothing. Rolling away the stone that keeps such persons in the tomb is bold evangelization – the fourth sign of a dynamic Catholic. The second challenge is listening to God calling us and inviting us to come out of the tomb. Some people just prefer to remain in their sleep. We need to wake up. Anthony DeMelo sums up this point beautifully. “Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up!” Responding to the voice of Jesus calling us to come out of our tombs leads us to be the best version of ourselves and become God’s instruments of transforming others by waking them up from their slumber of sloth to life again. “Transforming people one at a time is at the heart of God’s plan for the world.” (Matthew Kelly) The third challenge is the imperative of “untying and letting others go!” This is a powerful image of stewardship. Being raised from the dead; from our spiritual slumber is not enough. Imagine if someone had not challenged us to wake up from our spiritual slumber! We would still be lying there in burial clothes around our body, unable to untie ourselves. We need stewards, who care about others; who clean their wounds, bandage them and care for them until they recover from the shock of being robbed of God’s grace, beaten up and left on the roadside to die! The message of this Sunday may be summed up in a few points. 1) As stewards we are sent raise Lazarus to Life; to roll the stone away for someone. 2) We are challenged to help others hear the voice of Jesus calling, so they may respond and come out of the tomb. 3) We are further challenged to help to untie those still in bondage by leading them to discover the best way to live, so they can be the best version of themselves.  That is evangelization, the fourth sign of a dynamic Catholic. Be bold, be Catholic, be a dynamic Catholic!  

©2019 John S. Mbinda

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