On Sunday, I participated in my first Sunday Mass live streamed. I am sure that many of you, like me, found the experience to be quite unusual. I felt a deep ache in my heart to receive Our Lord physically in the Eucharist but I also felt a deep ache to be physically united to the body of Christ – the Church. The current climate is encouraging us all to find new ways to be united and stay connected. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the efforts so many priests are going to, to make the Sacraments available to the laity. This gives me great hope and encouragement in my faith. While the body of Christ may not be physically present to each other, we are, in another sense, more united than ever through prayer. It is no surprise to me that in a time where there is no economic security, countries are in lockdown, boarders are shut and anyone regardless of status or financial position is susceptible to this disease, the only thing unchanging, the only constant, is our faith in Christ. God only allows evil if He can bring a greater good from it. Let us focus on that good!
I would like to reflect on the past Sunday’s readings. You can find a shorter reflection in the Fire Up Lenten Resource but I’d like to expand on that here.
The first reading from Ezekiel is relevant to the situation we currently find ourselves in. I almost feel as if this reading is being directed at the whole of humanity right now. The Old Testament prophet tells us that God wants to open our graves and ‘lead us back to the soil of Israel.’ When He does this, we will ‘know that He is the Lord’ and He will put His spirit in us so we may live. I challenge you to ask yourself whether your heart is a ‘grave’ that God needs to open and replace with His spirit and life. We know that by definition a grave contains something dead. This reading has encouraged me to contemplate what parts of my heart are ‘dead’. Sin causes death. What areas of my life do I need to repent of? What ‘grave’ do I need exposed to the light and life of Christ? My favourite line in this reading is ‘I shall resettle you on your own soil.’ To me, this means that once God has pulled me from the grave of my sin, and replaced it with His spirit and life, He will help me and stay with me so I can stand in this new reality, and be reaffirmed in my identity as a daughter of the light – as His.
‘With the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption.’ This is such a beautiful psalm, and again, so fitting. Pope Francis said that ‘God never tires of forgiving us, it is us who tire of asking for forgiveness.’ We all desire this ‘fullness of redemption’ – this is the promise of heaven – our final destiny. The ‘home’ we long for. Mercy is a person. Jesus is Mercy! Don’t be afraid to run to Christ and ask for His mercy. His mercy is a never-ending fountain and he is waiting to pour it into your soul. God doesn’t pull you from your grave without being ready to shower you with his mercy, promising you the fullness of redemption. You were created for this heavenly bliss that He is offering!
The Second Reading shares this same theme of resurrection and life. Have you ever been sick and described yourself as looking or feeling like ‘death warmed up’? Well, that is exactly what existing in sin is. Don’t allow yourself to be a white washed tomb, stop focusing on outward appearances and trying to cover a soul that is wrought with the stench of death. You were created for life and light. There is no life in us when we simply go through the motions of the day, while being imprisoned by sin. We are only truly living when Christ is alive in us.
Finally, the Gospel we hear today is Jesus literally raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha has complete faith that she will see her brother Lazarus at the Resurrection on the Last Day. But Jesus challenges her to believe that He is the Resurrection and the Life, and that with faith, Lazarus will be raised from the dead before her eyes. While she professed her belief in the Resurrection, when Christ commanded that the stone be taken away from Lazarus’ tomb, Martha hesitated, saying ‘Lord, by now he will smell, for it is the fourth day.’ Jesus was not afraid of the stench of death for He knew that He could transform Lazarus’ death to life! Jesus is not afraid of the stench of death in our souls either. No one reaches Salvation alone. We need the Grace of God to take effect in our souls. Will you invite Christ to shine His grace in your soul today?
We all have to die one day. But why die before your time? Why simply exist, when you can live! Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. True happiness, true joy, true life can only come from Him. Believe in Christ with your whole heart. Let Him make a home in you as only He can guide you to the Home you deeply desire. The address you ache for is heaven. Through the grave we go home and then enter eternal life. Accept Jesus’ Resurrection and the impact this has on your life. Like the Gospel today, Jesus also says to you, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’