2004—Fifth Sunday of Lent—C
Do you know what you're missing coming to this liturgy at 12 noon? You're missing the opportunity to hear the powerful words of the prophet Isaiah, Forget the things of the past! See I am doing something new! See it breaks forth, do you not perceive it? And you're missing the dramatic testimony of Paul's faith in Jesus Christ. "I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him. Pretty dramatic witness of faith in Jesus Christ.
But if you have missed the opportunity to hear those powerful readings that the rest of the community is hearing at all the other liturgies, you are seeing for yourself God's doing something "new" in the life of one person. You will be seeing a pretty dramatic witness of faith in Jesus Christ in the life of one person.
This afternoon we are celebrating the final scrutiny for our catechumen/elect Scot who is on his way to the waters of baptism. We will pray "over him" as he prostrates himself on the cold, hard ground in the ancient gesture of humility. (That's where the word humility comes from, earth, ground) Like Lazarus in the scriptures, we pray that Scot will hear the voice of Jesus saying "Unbind him. Let him go free". Or in other words, "give him his life back"
I am particularly struck this afternoon with the symmetry of the gospel story with Scot's life. Jesus' gives Lazarus his life back to him, gives him back to those who love him, his family .
As a pediatric intensive care physician. his life is about giving critical care, using your knowledge and skill to "Give a child his or her life back and return them to their families, those who love them. I would imagine that there are times when one precious life is lost and like Jesus, Martha and Mary you weep with those who have lost a loved one. But as you say, since these are children so many of them do come back. It's that resiliency of the child's body and spirit. You have told me about the extraordinary faith, hope and love that families have as they place their children into you care.
That's what we witness in today's gospel, the extraordinary faith, hope and love of Lazarus' family and friends. Against all odds, Lazarus is brought back from death, called out of his tomb. The care and compassion of Jesus reaches beyond the grave and calls him back to life.
Scot, most of us do not live where you live facing critical issues of life and death on a daily basis. Most of us are not gifted with the skill to bring people back to life at least not in a physical sense. Although I have to admit that given the past years in the Church, I have felt like an "intensivist" when it comes to spiritual life and the life of our community. And I have grieved the loss of many who have found the Catholic church community a "deadening" place rather than a "revivifying" place.
But you are witnessing to "new life" in you. Jesus is doing for you what he did for his friend Lazarus. You have felt the intensive care of Jesus in his love for you and desire to embrace your pain and fill you with joy.
As we witness the faith, hope and love you have experienced, in your work and in your journey to the waters, perhaps we can ask ourselves what are we missing? What is so dead in us that we don't even know we are in a spiritual tomb? What is it that Jesus can do for us. Can we dare to believe the words of Isaiah that we "almost" missed this morning? See I am doing something new!