A call to live, a call to arise!
A reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A
by Sr. Nathalie Becquart, xmcj
With the current coronavirus disease spreading all over the world, we realize more and more how fragile life is. Even with the high level of technology that our countries benefit from, we cannot master this outbreak threatening the lives of so many people. Where there is life, there is the shadow of death and, across the centuries, humanity has had to confront this reality of death bonded with the gift of life. Those of us who have experienced serious health concerns and have recovered from coming so close to death know the price and the power of life. Because the gift of life does not come from or depend on us. It is a gift received, an energy, a dynamic reality, a mysterious impetus given by Another whom we call God, the source of all life. When our lives are in danger, we are like the psalmist: we can only cry to the Lord out of our depths to implore Him to give us the grace of life day after day.
The readings offered to us this Sunday to nourish our Lenten journey towards Easter resonate within us the call to live. They help us to understand how the call to live is a call to arise. That means a call to live with and through Christ under the guidance of the Spirit. In fact, the Gospel on the raising of Lazarus tells us that Jesus Christ, who is “the resurrection and the life”, is the one who calls us to arise. That is to say, to come out from our mortal confinements and bounds, from our symbolic graves and sinful complicities with the forces of death.
In Romans 8:8-11, we meditate that “the Spirit is life”. And Paul reminds us of our vocation to live and resurrect like Christ: “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 also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” Therefore, we can be aware that the process to be more and more alive, to live fully as of now, is a path to listen to, to discern the voice of, and to welcome the breath of the Spirit in all the concrete dimensions of our life. Discernment is always about choosing life, which means to choose in all situations what will lead us to receive and give more love, joy, peace, hope, and liberty.
There is a great parallel between this Gospel and the passage from Ezekiel. The Lord God who announces, “I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves” and “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live”, is the Lord of Life who empowers Jesus to believe life is always stronger than death. Driven by the Spirit and united to the Father, Jesus is moved by Martha’s words and touched by her faith. To choose and to offer the way of life, he will dare to go to the tomb and say, “Lazarus, come out!” This act of the resurrection of Lazarus can be seen as a prefiguration of Jesus’ paschal journey, which he comes to share with us through the sacrament of baptism.
At the core of Jesus’ message, there is this call to live. At the core of our paschal faith, there is this call to arise, which can be found in several passages of the Gospels: for example, in Luke 1:39, “Mary arose and went with haste”, or in Luke 7:14, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” It is a call to get up, to straighten up, and to get moving: a call to stand up firm, rooted in Christ, and to walk together, listening to the Spirit within the Church, to love and serve people in this world.
On this Lenten journey, may we ask the Lord for the grace to answer His call to be truly alive and to help life to grow around us. May we share this good news of life stronger than death with others, especially with young people. As Pope Francis reminds us at the beginning of his post-synodal exhortation, Christus Vivit
: “Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!”
The readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A, are
Sr. Nathalie Becquart is a Xaviere Sister of the Toronto community. Former Director of the National Service for the Evangelization of Youth and Vocations for the French Bishops’ Conference, she is Consultor to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and was an Auditor at the youth synod.