Sunday, March 29, 2020

5th Lent: Lazarus and the Coronavirus

    As I was reading this gospel 3 times  was I surprised by the words of Jesus. The first time was 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.” 
     I believe we can all agree that these are encouraging words in a time like this.  However we can not make the mistake of thinking that these words are a promise that we don’t have to worry about taking precautions, washing our hands and keeping our social distance because Jesus is telling us that if we or anyone we know gets sick, at the end we will all be healed. After all, a few short verses later in the reading we see Jesus crying for his dead friend.
     I think that what the Lord is telling us is that in a time like today, when the news is grim; even when we have to deal with the sickness of a loved one, if we let him, He will find a way to bring glory to his name. All we have to do is trust that even in the grimmest of times He is right there with us, sharing in our sufferings.
    The second time I was surprised by His words was when he said: “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me”. It surprised me because he is giving us a perfect example of how to start every prayer in times like the ones we are living. It is easy to get discouraged when, day after day, after we spend hours pleading with the Lord, we see that our prayers are ignored and that those things we so desperately want are denied by the harsh reality of life.
   It is important we recognize that these words of Jesus are the first words of the Lord when he was asking his father for the impossible, to bring Lazarus back to life. The Lord is giving us an example of how to pray. And that example is this: Pray with the realization that God indeed listens to our prayers. Even if we do not get the results we want, our prayers, every prayer counts. And our desired to be heard by God is always, always fulfilled. He might not answer our prayer but, like a good Father He is ready to console us when He has to deny what we so desperately need.
   And the third time I was surprised by the words of the Lord was when he said: “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. Do you believe this?”  Today  the Lord is asking  each one of us: Do you truly believe this?
   We are living in a time in which, because of this pandemic, death can become part of the reality of our lives. In fact we have reached a point that death has become just a number, that keeps going up and up. Anyone could become discouraged by the constant reporting of death in the news, but the Lord IS resurrection and life, if we believe in Him we will never die! Yes, our bodies might decay until it can not continue the battle, but our soul, our essence will continue, united to Him for all eternity.  And eventually we will meet again. Do we believe this? If we do, then there is no fear, no pain, no sickness, no virus that can keep us away from our eternal destiny.
    The coming days and weeks will be challenging to some if not all of us. The time of complacent Christianity is over. The time to pray, to hope and trust in God’s plan is here.
    Lets commend ourselves to the protection of all the angels, the saints, the martyrs and especially the Blessed Mother and lets make our prayer “Yes, I believe, Lord help my unbelief!” GBYMBAS.