Message from Fr. Mike

March 29th, 2020

REFLECTION ON THE READINGS FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Rarely do the three readings of any particular Sunday have a common theme. This is one of those rare occasions. The three readings for this Sunday merge together perfectly. They all point in one direction, “resurrection to newness of life.”  The first reading, from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, concludes with the interpretation of the dry bones that are gradually restored to life. It identifies the bones with Israel in exile, and the resurrection of the bones with Israel’s restoration to its homeland after the Babylonian exile. Here we have resurrection and restoration. The return of the people of Israel from exile will be like resurrection from the grave. Also, God will bring God’s people to newness of life and put God’s Spirit within them.

In the second reading, we hear this two-level language resurrection and restoration continued. The first level, resurrection, is applied to Christ. God raised Jesus from the dead. The second level, restoration is applied to the People of God.  God restored the people to newness of life. There is a promise attached to this phenomenon. According to that reading; “…He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies…” (Romans 8:11)

The Gospel is about the resurrection of Lazarus.  Again, the phenomenon of resurrection and restoration is applied here.  However, there is a particular and unique character in this story I would like to highlight.  When the story of Lazarus is compared to the story of the daughter of Jairus, and the widow of Nain, we notice that Jesus delayed the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus was in the tomb for four days. He did not want it to look like resuscitation. Why? St. Peter Chrysologus said; “He acts like this so that human hope may perish entirely and human despair reach its lowest depths. The deed He is about to accomplish may then clearly be seen to be the work of God, not of man.”

I love the statement by Peter because it goes to the heart of my article. Where is God in all this Corona virus fiasco? Will we see the resurrection and restoration from Covid-19 as an act of God or act of man? Besides the possibility of getting sick and dying from Covid-19, there are other social side effects arising from this situation, namely; economic loss, alcoholism, domestic violence, and what my niece called the Covid-19 baby boom.  As we pray to God to raise and restore us, let us make our prayer as holistic as possible.

I celebrate Mass for your intentions every day.

God bless you.

Fr. Michael Ume