Fr Richard Ballad prepared a homily for the Fifth Sunday in Lent. You can access our home worship resources from Our Lady of the Rosary here. However, I wanted to also share a few thoughts about the gospel lesson from Lazarus. Over the last few weeks God has been presenting us with a clear teaching about suffering and distress in the world.
Remember the gospel reading of the man born blind? The disciples asked who sinned to cause this suffering–the man or his parents. Jesus taught that it was not punishment for sin, but that the works of God might be revealed. Then in Pope Francis’ homily on Friday he related the story of the disciples on the stormy sea of Galilee and Jesus was sleeping in the boat. They had to wake him up to calm the storm, and in calming the storm he was revealed as the Creator God for only God has the authority to calm a storm.
Now in today’s gospel we have the mysterious detail that Jesus knew his friend Lazarus was sick, but he stayed away for two days. Martha asks him pointedly, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” Why did Jesus stay away for those two days? For the same reason he was asleep in the boat and for the same reason the man was born blind: so the glory of god might be revealed.
In the middle of the distress we cannot see the glory of God. We can only see the suffering and pain and we cry out to God asking why this is happening and asking him to take the pain away. We want the pain to go away, but do we really want healing? Do we want the in depth, body, soul and spirit healing that God wants for us or do we simply want things to go back the way they were? I think we usually just want the pain to go away and for things to go back the way they were. But this is not God’s way. He always want to use the suffering and distress as a means of his glory being revealed in the world.
Remember, Lazarus was brought back to life, but a short time later Jesus himself is led off to die. Why did this happen? So the glory of God might be revealed. In the middle of the suffering the disciples could never have imagined in what wonderful way the glory of God would be revealed, but it was revealed on Easter Day and thereafter.
This is the lesson from Lazarus: that God’s glory will be revealed. We are in the midst of a pandemic. Many are full of anxiety, fear and worry for the future. But God is in control. He will use this crisis to reveal his glory in the world, and if things get worse not better, then his glory will be revealed in an even greater way. This is what he does. This is his way in the world: he comes to us in the very midst of suffering, and turns the crisis into an occasion of rejoicing. The victim becomes the victor. The crucified becomes the glorified.
So in the midst of the pandemic do not fear. Take one day at a time. Put yourself in God’s hands and know that no matter what, his glory will be revealed.