Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
Fifth Sunday of Lent: Come Out of the Tomb
The gripping drama of the rising of Lazarus points towards Jesus as the Lord of Life and prepares us for the celebration of our sharing in His Life at Easter.
However, this gospel is more than this. It is a call for to consider if we are in a tomb. This gospel asks us to hear the voice of the Lord calling us to shore up our courage and to come out of our tombs. We are called to come into the Light. We are called to come to the Life. The gospel calls us to walk to the Lord.
We often put ourselves in tombs. There are times that we feel very dead, particularly dead to the Lord. When we are in this spiritual malaise, we do not want to reflect on our lives. We play a game with the Lord and ultimately with our eternal existence. The game is this: If we do not think about what we have done or are doing to ourselves, then we can attempt to overlook our situation. Only, we cannot really do that, can we? We can fool others into thinking that we are happy, but we cannot fool ourselves.
So, we get involved in things that are negative, nasty, and sinful. We tell others that we are happy with this life. We try to convince ourselves that we are happy with our lives. But we have a difficult time looking into the mirror. We have an even more difficult time walking into a church. And we have a horrible time taking God inside
of us, or simply sitting before Him in the Blessed Sacrament.
We try to blame others. We make believe that they have put us into the tomb. For example, others have said, “You don’t know what you are missing. Drink this. Take that. Do this. Do that. You will be happy. Loosen up! You are the only one at the party who is not drinking. Everybody is taking X now, why do you think you are so different? Of course we have sex; you’re the only one I know who doesn’t.” And with a group around us, with our defenses down perhaps due to various difficulties in our lives we say, “No big deal. I should try this. I should do that. Everybody else is.” Then, the next day, if not sooner, we feel rotten, dirty, even dead. We can blame others for putting us into the tomb, but ultimately, we did it to ourselves. We chose sin and suffer from it.
There are also times that we race into a tomb completely on our own, without the temptation of others. We convince ourselves that this or that is not going to hurt us so much. And we go places where a Christian does not belong, be those places in the world or within our own rooms, or we do things to ourselves that frustrate ourselves, and then we feel dead.
“Come out, Lazarus!”
Jesus is calling us. We are all Lazaruses. He is calling us to come out of the darkness, and come into His Light. He is calling us to come out of the place of death
and come into His Life. In his second book on Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI points out that the early Christians referred to themselves as The Living. That is what we are called to be, alive in an otherwise dead world.
Out of the tomb, into the light, out of the tomb, into His Life we experience indescribable joy. We are one with Jesus. We are at peace. We no longer view others as threats to our happiness. No, others become a road to happiness as we serve the presence of God within them. Out of the tomb, away from our sins, we see others as unique reflections of God, as people who can bring us to a deeper understanding of God’s love.
So, we ask ourselves today, “Am I happy with myself? Am I comfortable with my life? Am I happy with my relationship with God?” Those questions are just different ways of asking the same thing: “Am I alive, or am I dead?” Or, perhaps, “Is there something that is killing me?” Maybe, our relationship with others is pretty bad, and we tend to get nasty rather easily. Maybe we have friends that we try it impress by flaunting our sexuality, by joining them in drinking and drugs. We do our best to ignore the dying we feel within us, but the dying does not go away because we want it to go away. The way of death only goes away when we choose to walk away from it.
We ask ourselves today, “Where have I found joy? When has it been in my life that I have been truly happy? This leads us to focus on the times that our union with Jesus was so intense, so strong, that all we wanted to do was just relax in His Love.
Lazarus, come out!
We ask God today for the courage to walk away from that which is killing us and to walk towards the voice that is saying, “Leave this place of the dead and live in My Light, in My Love, in My Joy.
From John 3:17
God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but so that through Him the world may be saved; so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.