Today is the fifth Sunday of Lent. The Church reminds us that what gives life to our mortal body is the Spirit of God. The same Spirit will resurrect Christ on Easter day. He is the one who makes a difference in the life of every child of God. Hence, as we prepare for the Paschal Feast, we must be docile to the Spirit of God that gives us life.
The first reading is from the book of the prophet Ezekiel. He is often remembered as a reminder of Lent. He announced a promising future for his ruined people. It was a promise that God made to Israel while she was in exile. Today, this promise is still valid for us through Christ our Lord. It is a promise of the regeneration and restoration of our lives weakened by sin, sickness, and the difficulties of this life.
In the second reading, Paul also reminds us that it is only the Spirit of Jesus that can restore us to life:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you…he will give life to your mortal bodies…
In other words, without the Spirit of God one is as good as dead. This is because Christ himself tells us:
What gives life is the Spirit of God, the flesh profits nothing.
This was evident in the life of Saul, the former king of Israel. Immediately the Spirit of God left him, he became miserable and mischievous (1 Sam 16: 14-16). Therefore, the Spirit of God is the evidence of God’s activity and life in us. Hence, Paul warns us:
…Do not grief the Holy Spirit of God who is God’s mark of ownership of you….
This is very important because he is the one who guides and sustains us.
The gospel of this Sunday presents us with Jesus’ demonstration of power. By raising Lazarus from death, Christ proved that he is really the resurrection and the life. He could not have achieved this without the power of the Holy Spirit. Regeneration, resurrection and restoration are all possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. All we need to do is humble ourselves and allow him to use us.
There are a few lessons we must learn from today’s gospel. First, this miracle is an expression of love. We were told that when the message came to Jesus:
The man you love is ill.
Jesus went because of the love he had for Lazarus and his family. Just as their joy was his joy, also, their sorrow became his sorrow. So, “Jesus wept!”
Second, our faith is very important in the working of any miracle for us. Christ asked Mary and Martha:
I am the resurrection and the life…Do you believe in this…?
So, in order to resurrect Lazarus, the love of Christ and the faith of his sisters brought down the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the third lesson is that with Christ, and through power of the Holy Spirit, everything is possible. This is because Jesus has authority over life and death.
Finally, Jesus is ever willing to help us, no matter what it will cost him. It does not matter how long we have been spiritually dead or exiled. He knows us, loves us, and calls us by our names, just as he called Lazarus: “Come out!” If we hear and obey his voice, then he will restore life to our weak and mortal bodies through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Fr Gerald Biñegas RCJ