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4/2/17 Fifth Sunday in Lent - Deacon Ron

Homily Summary for 5th Sunday of Lent ~ Deacon Landry

Today’s gospel presents us with one of the most famous miracles ever performed by Jesus Christ. As awesome as all of our Lord’s miracles are, raising the dead to life represents a level of divine power that surpasses all others. And yet, the focus of today’s gospel message is not so much about Jesus’ power, but about the hope that our Savior brings us.

The details John provides in his narrative are well worth considering carefully and personally. We begin with Lazarus’ very name, a shortened form of Eleazar, which means "God helps." He is from the town Bethany, which means "House of Affliction”. From the very beginning of a narrative which reminds us of the hopelessness we can feel when faced with the evil in our lives, we are reminded—with the most profound of miracles—of the hope our Savior brings us.

You and I are metaphorically from Bethany at various times, and to varying degrees, in our lives. And as we struggle to survive in a “House of Affliction” it is all too easy to sink into a place of hopelessness. Although we pray often and fervently, evil is still an ever-present part of our lives. Thus the cliché, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Note how both Martha and Mary each complain bitterly to Jesus that, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.Does that lament sound painfully familiar?

As we reflect on John’s gospel message, we must delve deeper than what appears on the surface. Certainly, it is because of Jesus Christ that you and I will enjoy everlasting life after our physical lives are over here on earth. However, as we proceed with our Lenten journey, we are reminded that the spiritual death that is the result of sin is conquered by the Son of God. We are reminded that we needn’t wait until our lives are over—we can begin here and now.

Lent, is about the hope that Jesus Christ brings us. Obviously, we anticipate the celebration of Easter—the celebration of everlasting life that our Savior has won for us through his Passion and Resection. However, as we reflect on today’s gospel we are reminded not only of the end of our lives, but of the hope that Jesus brings us today and every day. Lent is a season when we focus in a special way on the death that sin afflicts upon our souls. "Lord, by now there will be a stench”, we cry to our Savior. And our Lord’s response? “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” The joyful hope of Lent is that because of Jesus Christ you and I can start on the road to eternal life here and now.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a beautiful gift given to us by our Savior so that we can free our souls from the stench of death. We are not only absolved of our sins, but are given the grace to avoid sin in the future and become the person we are meant to be. And then, with a soul properly prepared, we receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Savior through the miracle of Eucharist.

Listen again to the beautiful words of our second reading: “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness... the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also...”


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