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The power to restore life: Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent (3rd Scrutiny)

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Raising of Lazarus by Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat
The Raising of Lazarus by Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat

by Deacon Robin Cheung

Today we celebrate the 5th Sunday of Lent (3rd Scrutiny). Let us thank God for His immense love!
These past four weeks, we have learned a great deal from Jesus through different readings and gospels. And it is my sincere hope that we will take His admonition seriously and turn His holy word into a positive force to transform ourselves and enrich others.
May His Holy name be praised!

Indeed, life is pretty short when compared with eternity!

As we know, after death, we will end up either in the eternity of heaven or the eternity of hell.

The question is: How do we prepare our life and follow Jesus to the eternity of heaven?

According to prophet Ezekiel, we must trust the Lord.
He reminds us never to abandon the Lord like the Israelites and thus become hopeless.
He says that even if the bones dry up and the breath is gone, if we obey the words of the Lord, He will put His spirit within us, and thus we shall live again (Ezekiel 37:11-14).
St. Paul reinforces for us that the best way to please God is to follow the spirit of God instead of the flesh.
He says that if the Spirit of God dwells in us, our mortal bodies will have life again.
In today's Gospel reading, Jesus restores Lazarus' life after he had been dead for four days.

How can these readings help us to understand death and what lies beyond death?

“If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies” (Romans 8: 10-11).
Indeed, the Church constantly reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our saviour, and He has defeated death. As long as we trust Him wholeheartedly, He can change our mortal body and resurrect us in the future to share His glory in eternal life.

Today's Gospel is of great significance.

Jesus hopes to show the glory of God and increase our faith, and consequently, expel our fears about death.
Jesus deliberately arranged to go to His friends’ home on the fourth day after Lazarus' death.

Why do I say "deliberately"?

Because Jesus always loved his friends. Under normal circumstances, when he heard of Lazarus’ illness , he would have gone to heal him immediately. He would never have stayed in the same place for two more days before going to them.
But his purpose in doing this was to increase their faith and hope in his power to restore life even when it seemed impossible.
"Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days" (Jn 11:39).

He wants to remind us that death is not the end of life and eternal life is our final destination.

Having said that, our earthly lives are really short and running out fast!
Why don’t we consider how we can make good use of the grace that God has given us, to add warmth and joy to our family, community, and society?
Why don’t we try to let go of fleshly evil desires and follow the Holy Spirit?
Why don’t we learn to pray, meditate, and share with our neighbours the good news of Jesus Christ?
Today Jesus cries with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (Jn 11:43).

Lazarus came out of his death. Should we not also leave our sin behind and come out to Jesus, too?

Jesus also said to the people: “Unbind him and let him go.”
Can we help those who are affected by fleshy enticement to let go of their chains? Can we try to assist them to walk the path of eternal life?
“Consequently, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:12-13).

Is death scary?

Not at all.
What is really scary is when we can’t find the direction to eternal life.
Let us remind ourselves: instead of paying attention to our fleshy desires which cause death, why don’t we focus on the Spirit of God?

Don’t be afraid! Jesus never gives up on us.

So what are we waiting for?

Let us pray to Jesus to increase our faith in Him and hope that one day we will share in the glory of His resurrection!
Our Lady, help of Christians! Pray for us!
[Readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent, Year A: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45]

Deacon Robin Cheung is a permanent deacon serving in the Archdiocese of Montreal. Previously, he served at Montreal Chinese Catholic Mission. Currently, he is at St. John Brébeuf Parish in LaSalle.
Contact him by email at [email protected].

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