Mass & Directions

Sunday March 29th: Fifth Sunday of Lent

St. Francis Parish | March 26, 2020, 5:47 pm | Reflections

   Daily Readings: Sunday March 29th: Fifth Sunday of Lent
   “Now a man was ill”. These are the first words we hear in today’s Gospel from John 11:1-45. These words may bring a whole new set of emotions to many at this time when we have completely altered our lives in order to combat the spread of illness throughout the world. While the crisis we currently face places our focus on our physical well being, the timing for us to be nourished by today’s Gospel could not be any better.
   As we read through the events of the story of Lazarus, we discover many dynamics. One that is more prevalent is that of Jesus’ Love. We hear in the beginning, “Master, the one you love is ill” when Jesus is first told of Lazarus’ condition. Next we hear, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Later, when Jesus arrives at the tomb, He is overcome by the grief of the people there and “Jesus wept.” And the Jews said, “See how He loved him.”  With the amount of love Jesus had for Lazarus, we may be confused by that which was also troubling to both Mary and Martha.  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Martha said to Jesus.  Later when Mary arrives to meet Jesus, she too says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Why did Jesus not go sooner to save Lazarus?
   Upon further reflection, how can we know that Jesus could have even been there in time.  He waited two days before He left and when He arrived, “Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.”  Did Jesus take a much longer route that delayed Him an additional two days?  And, did He even need to be there to save Lazarus?  We know of other Gospel passages where He saved lives without them being in His presence.  There is clearly much more going on here than we could presume to fully understand.  What we do learn from this is that Jesus’ raising up of Lazarus was an illustration of what was to come when the souls of the faithful dead would rise following His own death and resurrection.  For that is what Jesus was teaching His disciples on that day.  This was the plan He set out once He first learned of Lazarus’ illness when He said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  Jesus further reveals this plan when he tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
   As we continue to take precautions with the ultimate objective of saving physical lives, let us also be reminded of the importance of preserving our eternal lives.  The change to our routines may cause us to lose focus on how we should be making use of our time during this season. Let today’s Gospel remind us that Lent is a time for Penance and Preparation for the coming of our Lord.  Let us create new routines that incorporate our participation in Mass on Sundays through the options of streaming made available by our parish.  Wherever we do “attend” Mass, in our living rooms or other, let us ensure that we create an environment that gives Jesus our complete focus as if we are physically sitting in the pews.  Perhaps sitting in dining chairs, if possible, to keep us alert as opposed to our normal relaxed posture on the couch.  Let us continue to show reverence for our Lord in how we dress.  We are participating in a Spiritual Communion with our Lord, not watching television or browsing the internet.  Let us be sure to respond to the Celebrant as we would in Church by standing, sitting and kneeling (if possible).  Let us avoid allowing the changes we are experiencing to be a disruption to our Spiritual lives.  Let us also not forget that even though we are not physically in the presence of Jesus, He is always with us.  Let us strive to live a faithful and penitent life in prayerful hope that on that day, He will raise us from our graves.
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