Fifth Sunday in Lent
This week our Journey takes us to the place of our greatest fears and deepest sadness: the tomb. Jesus, when hearing about the serious illness of his friend Lazarus, seems to intentionally wait a few days before heading to Bethany. When Jesus arrives, Lazarus has already been in the tomb for four days. Three days was the traditional time frame for someone be “really dead” in this pre-scientific age, so day four was beyond all hope: death had the last word in the life of Lazarus, or so it seemed. Jesus’ Journey takes him right to the mouth of the tomb, where he commands the dead man to come forth. Life returns to Lazarus and he comes out of the tomb-the place of death, decay and darkness-into the light of Jesus.
Why does Jesus take us, on our Lenten journey, to this particular place, the tomb? Jesus’ journey (and ours) leads to the tomb so that we can know that his love, his mercy and his miracles are not stopped by death. Death does not have the last word; Jesus Christ has the last word! He
is the Word of the Father, the definitive Word that speaks life into this world. Our
mission this week is to fulfill one of the spiritual works of mercy: to pray for the dead. It is a necessary part of our Christian lives to pray for those who have died. The souls in Purgatory, as they are purified in their preparation for Heaven, need our prayers. This means that we can continue to love and support family members who have died, by our prayers for them. This week our mission is to pray for those who have died, and if you are able, visit a cemetery to pray for the dead. For Christians, the cemetery is not a place of fear or ghosts or other such nonsense; it is a place where Christ Jesus reigns. So lets take seriously our mandate to pray for the dead, that all of us, living and dead, might encounter the light of Jesus Christ. God bless you!