Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Homily Fifth Sunday of Lent 9 Year A March 2008

N.B.: Below is the basic skeleton of the homily, which I wrote out, while at Mass I in fact gave some parts ad libitum. You can glean from the following the basic idea.

Every human person knows the sadness of and separation.

The joy of Christianity is found in knowing that the power of God’s love
conquers even …restores life…and carries the promise of immortality.

Many stories found in the Holy Scripture
contain the key to a deeper and often less easily discernable spiritual meaning.
The story of Lazarus is no exception.

As the Fathers of the Church describe…
in the four days of Lazarus’ imprisonment in the tomb…
in which his body surely underwent corruption and decay,
we can see signified four stages of spiritual decay and .

In the history of human persons…
the first stage of separation from God was the “original sin”
when man in his selfishness rejected the gift and plan of God
in order to take for himself what was not good for him.

Violation of the natural law is the second of the human race…
exemplified by the of Abel by his brother Cain.

The third stage in the spiritual of mankind is violation of the Law of Moses.

Finally, the fourth is despising the Gospel of grace revealed in Jesus Christ.
It is significant that the disciples of Jesus tell him that Lazarus
has been four days.
Before modern medical expertise and current embalming practices…
it was not out of the question for unconscious people to be buried alive.
So, elders from the town would go out to the cemetery to check on the
for three days after the and burial.
After three days was believed to be certain, so nothing more was done.

For Lazarus, it has been four days, and so is absolute
and the natural decay which accompanies is well underway.
There is seemingly no turning back, and no hope.

Only the saving, supernatural power of the Son of God…
the one who will soon trample by His own sacrificial on the Cross
and so restore life to those in the graves
can overcome the apparent gruesome finality of Lazarus’ condition.

In a similar way, it seemed as if the whole world had decayed and was surely .

Man and woman had rejected the life God had planned for them.
Men turned against one another and took life.
God’s chosen people had rejected the teaching of His chosen prophet Moses.
The people of Jesus’ own time despise His message of truth and love
and are plotting to crucify the Lord of Glory.

It would seem that all is lost…that the world had gone past the point of no return…
abandoning the Almighty God
and rending asunder the ties that once bound the chosen people to their Lord.

It is only the victory of Christ's Cross that is able to reach across the abyss
and heal the wounds which sin have cut deeply in the fabric of humanity,
causing it to decay and be overcome with the stench of evil.

Praise be to Jesus Christ for the marvelous and unsurpassable victory
He has won for us on the Altar of the Cross!

How often do we really ponder the uniquely blessed situation we enjoy…
loved by God…redeemed by His Son…and filled with His Holy Spirit?
Imagine our lives without the presence of Jesus!
Imagine the depraved situation of all humanity without His saving sacrifice!

The victory of Jesus Christ on the Cross was a sacrifice offered once and for all…
and yet the battle continues to be fought in the hearts of all men and women
as humanity struggles to embrace the love Christ offers to us.

Because of the stain of original sin…
the tendency to sin remains in all people…
as we know well about ourselves in our own weaknesses and foibles.

Because of the residue of original sin, the other stages of spiritual
continue to be manifest in our world today.

The natural law…that law of life written forever on the hearts of all people…
that is violated and mocked
in the culture of
and in the so-called “gay rights” and “gay marriage” agenda.
These particular ideas have even begun to be featured in stories
in elementary school reading books.

The 10 commandments…the law revealed by God to Moses…
are not only violated but to be displayed in public.

The Gospel of truth and love revealed in the person of Jesus Christ
is constantly ridiculed and rejected.
The Church of Jesus Christ is dismissed as out-of-touch and medieval.
It has become acceptable today for someone to “be catholic” or “be the church”
and yet believe nothing she says, and do nothing she requires.

Yet, how lost we all would be without the moral compass
provided by the living Tradition of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

All of this seems very dark and saddening.
In fact it is…when any one of us has a taste of the splendor of life in Jesus Christ
and at the same time contemplates the condition of those in the world
who have rejected Him.

Jesus is both truly God and truly man.
We see in His life…and in particular in today’s Gospel…
a mingling of both the human Jesus and the divine Son of God.

As a man, He really weeps at the of His beloved friend Lazarus.
All the while, as the Son of God, He has come to raise him up to life again.

When at first He hears of Lazarus’s …surely the man Jesus is heartbroken.
The Son of God, however, waits two days before going to Bethany.

The delay…the finality of Lazarus’ and four-day rest in the tomb…
will mean an even more profound impact on the disciples
and an even greater awakening to faith
when at last Jesus raises Him from the .

The Son of God could have prevented Lazarus from ever dying…
or at least raised him sooner and with less pain for his loved ones.

How often we experience the frustration of Martha…
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
How often we say…
“Lord, if you had been here!”
“Lord, where were you…Where are you?”

Jesus could have and can do anything.
Yet, Jesus desires to work in and through weak human persons…
in order to bring about the glorious resurrection of the human soul.
As Martha and the other friends brought Jesus to the grave of Lazarus
so must we bring Christ to the decaying and dying situations of life.

It is in us and through us that Christ desires to restore
respect for the natural law
and love of His Word revealed through SS and the Tradition of the Church.

We are the members of the Body of Christ.
We have the ability and the obligation
to live according to the teaching of the Church.
We can make a difference in the decaying situations in the world around us.

We need only to watch the news to know that trouble is brewing in our world.
Christ desires to bestow new and more abundant life to all people…
and He has chosen to do it through His Church.

Open your hearts and be His instruments of grace!

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