MY PERSONAL SUNDAY REFLECTION, FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT, April 6, 2014
Gospel: John 11:1-45
“How does it feel to be inside a tomb?”
I wonder how it feels to be inside a tomb. Perhaps, even when I am dead I would not experience what it is to be in a tomb. But the tomb where spirits are in prison is the kind of burial that makes one either hope for deliverance or wrench in despair.
The message of this Sunday’s gospel reading revolves around the miracle that Jesus did when He raised Lazarus to life after being buried in the cave for four days. Martha speaks about the hope of the resurrection of the body of which our Lord affirmed positively. We know that we will see our brother Lazarus in the last day when all shall be resurrected to face judgement. But here our Lord, in order to affirm the message of the gospel said that Lazarus’ death was meant to demonstrate the power of the Son of God and the power of His message. Thus even in a temporal way Christ has demonstrated His capability to deal with the mundane problems of life. That is why Jesus demanded faith from Martha and Mary. Because of these Christ demonstrated His power over death, sickness and whatever form of human affliction. The resurrection of the dead is a fundamental belief of our faith and that we should affirm positively if we want to be saved.
Reflecting on the message of the gospel, and connecting this reflection on the opening statement I have made, how does it feel to be in a tomb? Only we could guess. Perhaps it is awful, dark and miserable. But as a natural consequence the dead will never know. Sometimes there is also a spiritual form of death and many times we find ourselves in this kind of death and “entombment”. How miserable it is to live in sin, especially the sin that separates us entirely from the life of God. But even in this miserable state of life, we can always hope and call out to God. Christ is the master who will call us out from the entombment of sin and misery. We are the children of hope and even in deep misery we can always call upon Christ to save us. Like St. Peter when he started to walk in the water, but the moment he began to doubt, he sank little by little, but there and then our Lord extended His hand to save and to confirm the faltering faith of Simon Peter. We too often find ourselves sinking because of sin, but we can always hope and call upon our Lord to save. His Name and hands are mighty to save.
Thinking of the various scandals that happened in our church, especially child abuse, abuse of power, clericalism and the ridicule of the world, these experiences are like entombment. Even in this seeming failure, Christ works in order to purify our hearts and our Church. The church will never be defeated. That was the promise of Christ to Simon Peter, prince of the apostles. But these events, has led us to be more open and to overcome the culture of silence and the culture of cover up. Sometimes we cover up because we want to protect the reputation of the Church, but in so doing we do not address the problem but instead we make it worse. But as in exorcism the first step is to name the “devil”. So too in this process of purification we need to name our own evils so that we can address these evils and purify ourselves from these miseries. From this “entombment”, we ask ourselves and we search ourselves, “how does it feel to be in the tomb?” Like Martha and Mary let us affirm our faith in the Son of God so that just as He called Lazarus out of the tomb, we too can hear the call of Christ. Yes, we are afraid, perhaps like Martha we would tell our Lord, “do not open the tomb, he has been buried for four days and there is the stench”. Perhaps likewise we would say I do not want to acknowledge my sinfulness because it will hurt me. My sin stinks. But then, let us listen to the Son of God answer His call and we shall be delivered whole and entire. For that is the way of salvation. Amen.