Homily March 26th, 2023

Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year A

Ez 37:12-14; Ps 130:1-8; Rm 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45

Dear brothers and sisters: today, on the fifth Sunday of Lent, the Church offers us the opportunity to meditate on the resurrection of Lazarus. There are many things that can be said about the gospel but I just want to talk briefly about one little thing, which is: what we have to do when God’s will doesn’t make much sense to us. We know that God knows everything, and that He loves us, but many times it is difficult to understand the reason why bad or difficult things that happen to us. We can think even of the situation in the world right now: where is God in the midst of all these difficulties and sufferings?

One of the things that strikes us in the Gospel is that mysterious wait of Jesus. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.”[1] Actually, the original words are much stronger: it literally says “Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus. Therefore or consequently or accordingly, when he found out that Lazarus was ill, indeed he actually stopped two more days in the place where he was.” In other words, the motive or reason why Jesus stayed put and didn’t go to heal Lazarus was precisely His love. And consequently Lazarus died.

It seems like a strange sort of love that would let a loved one die. Indeed, the Bible uses many words to say “love,” but here, when it speaks of the love that Jesus had, it uses a word (agapaó) that means the highest and purest love possible, a love of preference. This is the love that God the Father has for each one of us: “God the Father loves me knowing who I am, what I am like, where I come from, how much I can and how many limits I have. You know me by name. He has loved me, with these characteristics; he has not loved the ‘bundle’, the ‘heap’, something generic.”

However, many times we don’t see things like this. And thus it was with Martha, when she scolded Jesus, saying: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

The interesting thing is that Christ does not answer this objection, because it’s the truth. If Jesus had been, Lazarus would not have died, and that is precisely why Jesus stayed two more days, in order, we could say, to give Lazarus time to die. But all that, because He loved Lazarus. God does not allow evils, be they spiritual, or bodily, whatever they might be, for any reason other than love. Love is the reason why anything at all happens in this world. If it is a good thing, it is because God loves us, and if it’s a bad thing, even a very bad, terrible, awful, horrible thing, God, loving us, knows how to take advantage even of that very bad thing, even the worst things of this world, and get an even greater good from them than would have happened had He acted in a different way. Many times it’s the delay, the waiting for His response that makes us suffer or despair, but, as Saint Peter says: “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay’” (2 Pt 3:9). As some say: God’s plans are never fulfilled early, nor are they fulfilled late: they are always carried out just at the right time. God’s plans are not fulfilled early, nor are they fulfilled late: they are always carried out at the right time. The difficult thing is being patient, and trusting that God knows everything and loves us. We do not know everything, but we do know our God, and that is why we have to trust in the love that God the Father has for us.

Many times we cannot understand the reason for God’s actions, or the reason for what has been allowed by Divine Providence. But as Saint Paul says: “I know in whom I have believed.” The One in whom we believe is the same one who responded to Martha saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. . . .  Do you believe this?” Do we believe that? Do we believe that, despite the difficulties, the sufferings, the pain, that Jesus is there, giving life to people and situations that seem to be totally dead? Do we believe that God, with His Infinite Power and Eternal and Complete Wisdom, knows what He is doing, and that He allows or permits it precisely because He loves us? When we believe that, and we really believe it from the heart, we will have in hand the key to be holy despite what happens to us, because we will be partakers in the divine power that resurrects the worst things and gives life to what was dead or in danger of death, and thus we will be able to love God in all things, despite how ugly they sometimes seem to us.

Today, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us ask for the grace to trust more and more in God’s love for us, who allows things with the sole purpose of helping us draw closer to Him in this life and in heaven.

[1] ἠγάπα δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν Μάρθαν καὶ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον. ὡς οὖν ἤκουσεν ὅτι ἀσθενεῖ, τότε μὲν ἔμεινεν ἐν ᾧ ἦν τόπῳ δύο ἡμέρας



Other posts