Fifth Sunday of Lent
Romans 8: 8-11
Ten more days and we will enter Holy Week. Lent is quickly come to an end. You began Lent with great expectations, a list of disciplines to perform and devotions to fulfill. And now you find these promises have not been accomplished. If you are terribly disappointed with yourself and feel like a complete failure, today’s Gospel is for you. Our Lenten journey leads us to the Risen Christ, and a top pathway to get there is through personal failure. In failure we discover that it is not about our powers but about the power of the resurrection.
First, notice that Jesus wept. When I was in the seminary, I attended a wake service that one of our Passionist priests was leading. As he spoke to the family, who had unexpectedly lost their father, he choked up, paused and took a deep breath; then he continued. There were tears rolling down his cheeks. At first I was embarrassed for him. But on second reflection, I knew the tears were a sign of his humanity and his empathy with the profound sorrow of the family. When people are in grief, they don’t need theological pronouncements. They just want us to come and love them and maybe even cry with them. Jesus wept with the Martha and Mary, their family and friends. Jesus felt the pain of the sisters in the loss of their brother. Jesus loves us in our failures; he walks through the valley with us and loves us through the valley of loss, confusion, failure, etc.
Jesus raised Lazarus. "Jesus performed no funerals, only resurrections," wrote a popular writer, Brett Blair. Jesus speaks the name of the dead man. Jesus will speak your name. He has a resurrection for you. He wants to bring you out of the tomb of failure. He will give you a new start and new life.
Finally, Jesus included other people. Jesus turns to the family and friends and says, "Take away the stone," and "Unbind him and let him go." Jesus knows how important it is to have family and friends helping us, supporting us, surrounding us with love.
Do we feel that our Lenten journey has failed? This is not necessarily a bad place to be. Ezekiel reminds us of God’s words, "I will put my spirit in you that you may live." Jesus felt the pain of those he loved and he still does. Jesus raised people up and he still does. He includes others in the healing process, and he still does. This is the Good News of Easter; Christ is risen and shares his resurrection with us today.
Let us pray for those killed and injured at Ft. Hood. May Jesus bless them with our love and prayers.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.