The Raising of Lazarus – 5th Sunday in Lent

The Raising of Lazarus

The story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead begins with a puzzling situation.  When Jesus is told that his friend is seriously ill, he remains distant and aloof.  It’s so unlike him.  When eventually he goes to the house, Lazarus has died.  The sisters Martha and Mary seem to chide him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Perhaps we can identify with this experience of God being distant from us.   The Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 164, reads: “The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised by faith.  Our experience of evil and suffering, injustice, and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.”

Where is God now in this time of dread and helplessness under the cloud of Coronavirus?  Numbers of victims multiply daily.  Churches, schools, sporting events, social centres and places of employment are closed.   How can faith survive?

Viktor Frankl wrote about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp.  He saw how the injustices being suffered acted like a breeze which extinguished weak faith but fanned a sturdy faith into a blazing fire.

We are only two weeks away from the liturgical celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus.   One of the great lessons to be learned before the crucifix is that Jesus did not avoid suffering.  He did not save us from a comfortable distance.  He entered into solidarity with every sort of suffering:  the injustice of a sham trial based on fake evidence: every sort of physical pain: the emotional pain of being betrayed, denied or deserted by his closest followers: the family pain of seeing his mother at the foot of the cross: and, perhaps the most severe suffering, his cry of dereliction, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. There was a darkness over the earth.  It seemed that evil had won.  But three days later the stone was rolled back.  The tomb was empty and Jesus had risen from the dead.

Let us pray.

Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen our faith in this time of darkness, fear and gloom.  May we know that you are with us.

Protect us from Coronavirus.  Lay your healing hand over those stricken by the virus.  Keep safe all who work in the care of the sick.

May your light direct those who are searching for the antidote to the virus.

May our society be enriched as neighbours grow in kindness and care for one another.

Br Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap. 

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