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5th Sunday of Lent Year A, 2017. A Homiletic Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Australia. WEEPING AT ANOTHER’S DEATH.

WEEPING AT ANOTHER’S DEATH

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‘Jesus weeps’ with sadness at the death of his friend, Lazarus. He does not hide his tears. But then as the Master of life and death, ‘the resurrection and the life’, he calls out: ‘Take the stone away …, Lazarus … come out …, Unbind Lazarus, and let him go free.’

Death comes in many forms other than our final exit. We may feel that we are losing our grip on life, that we are broken, defeated and destroyed. A kind of death may happen to us if or when we find ourselves suffering grief, hurt, illness, shame, humiliation, separation, or the end of our marriage. The dreadful experience, whatever form it takes, may even leave us feeling that we have no energy, no future, and nothing left to live for.

It’s not difficult to see Lazarus as representing every one of us. Perhaps at times we have felt that we too have ended up in a tomb! Dead and buried! Cut off from life and the joys of life! Helpless, frustrated, bound up, and falling apart! Feeling too that some huge boulder is blocking our path back to light, life, and freedom! A boulder too heavy for us to roll away on our own!

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A particularly virulent and toxic form of living death is the disease of alcoholism. It not only destroys the living physical organs of the patient, but destroys their world of meaning and relationships as well. This has come home to me vividly in recent years when I was offering support to a recovering alcoholic. One of the things he said that will always stay with me is that until he finally turned to the AA program of recovery, he had been slowly but surely committing suicide.

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Whatever form living death may take in our lives, we rarely recover without a great deal of help from other people, help which includes friendship every bit as much as professional therapy. This is where we all come into the lives of others. This is where we act like Jesus himself when he intervenes in the death of Lazarus and in the grief of Martha and Mary! This is where we help the ones we love and the ones we befriend, to get up from their living death, rise to new life, and get moving again.

Diana

So it’s a matter of being on the ready to be ‘Godsends’, agents and instruments of the Holy Spirit, in fact, to anyone who may need us. It’s a matter of being sensitive to, being responsible for, and being compassionate towards. It’s a matter of caring enough, reaching out to, and being there for. It’s a matter of believing in, hoping that, and supporting the struggling and stumbling ones, to get back on track and rediscover that life is worth living after all, and that they still have a lot of living to do.

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Jesus wept at the loss of his dear friend Lazarus. So must we weep at the plight of people who mean much to us. Right now I’m still grieving over the murder of innocent Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati, cruelly murdered on February 17th, 2014, on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, and at the slowness of the authorities to charge anyone for his cruel death.

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We cannot belong to Jesus without weeping with him at the tombs of our fellow human beings, and calling them out of those tombs into the light and love of God’s embrace. An alternative Opening Prayer today for our celebration of Jesus, our resurrection and our life, spells out beautifully what our communion with him and one another leads us to do and to be:

‘Father …,’ we pray, ‘the love of your Son led him to accept the suffering of the cross in order that his brothers and sisters might glory in new life. Change our selfishness into self-giving. Help us to embrace the world which you have given us that we may transform the darkness of its pain into the life and joy of Easter.’

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When the much loved Pope St John XXIII was dying he pointed to the crucifix near his bed and told those standing around him that it was those open arms of Jesus crucified that inspired his whole program of life and work. What an inspiration it is to you and me as well, to take our cue from Jesus, not only weeping at the death and loss of his close friend, but doing everything he could to change death into life, darkness into light, and sadness into joy!

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For the sensitivity that we need, then, to notice when another human being is close to breaking-point, and for the courage, compassion and generosity to step in and offer our assistance before it’s too late, let us keep praying to the Lord: Lord, hear us…
bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 

 

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5th Sunday of Lent Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Unbind Lazarus, and let him be free!

Unbind Lazarus, and let him be free!

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Each week as we listen to the various Gospel stories, the risk is that as they are so familiar to us, we can be blinded to the significance of the evergreen Word being proclaimed to us now. Whenever God’s Word is proclaimed, an invitation is extended to us, and our response depends on the ‘alertness’ of our minds and hearts to the activity of the Spirit within us.

Today we hear the familiar and so very touching story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. Notice that Jesus cried! As we journey through the Gospels there are many examples of Jesus being moved with emotion. Jesus sighs; Jesus is angry; Jesus loves with a heart set on fire by His Father … a heart, which reaches out, to all people in ordinary and difficult situations. Sometimes, His response causes a negative reaction among the people around Him.

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At this point we need to be totally curious about this wonderful story of Lazarus within the context of the Johannine community and their own aims an objectives in terms of Catechesis. So, let’s jump into the deep end of the pool! Lazarus……what does his name mean? The Greek name lazaros comes from the Hebrew el azar, meaning ‘God has helped’. Keeping in mind the overall intent of John and his community in the construction of this the Fourth Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as the SIGN par excellence as giver of life, when all hope is gone! The description of the exit of Lazarus from the Tomb, and the lapse of time between his burial and resurrection are surely anticipations of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We must remember that this Gospel was put together about 100 AD, so John the Evangelist and his community had the benefit of many years of reflection upon the man Jesus, and the Christ of faith, together with the Spirit filled Apostles who were living editions of The Good News.

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Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the impact of this story. The text says that Jesus LOVED Mary, Martha and Lazarus. This is manifested in a particular way when Jesus, seeing the tears of Mary and the Jews, said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from his heart; ‘where have you put him?’ Let’s ponder this for a moment or two; we all know that Jesus was turned inside out with grief….we have all suffered that kind of experience during our life….here we have the human face of God, Jesus, doing this for us! This ‘internal agony’ was to be relived again in Jesus during the vigil before his death while at prayer in the Garden. ‘Father, if it be possible, let ME experience your saving hand through the drinking of this cup!’ Once again, I refer to Jesus weeping during this ordeal with Lazarus. Let’s not forget that Jesus wept for Jerusalem before his death!!!! Even in the sight and presence of Jesus, some people were skeptical…….in other words, their faith still had to be matured, and upon the exit of Lazarus from the Tomb, they too had the opportunity of being un bound! The famous words of Jesus which echo around us eternally was….’Unbind him, let him go free’. Notice that Jesus was the Intercessor in this prayer to God. Jesus asked others to enable Lazarus to walk free! We might ask, where was he going to walk? A good question. It would seem, according to the Biblical intent, that the walking of Lazarus in freedom is what each one of us is called to do and be! We, at the intercession of Jesus, are called to unbind ourselves with others their help, and in turn, we assist in doing the same for others.

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Many of the Legal Eagles in our Lord’s time were bound up through legalities and thus had smothered the ‘life of God within in.’ others were bound up in living a life in opposite to the Covenant love of God……they were bound in another way. Surely, part of the Mission of the Church in the world is to ‘unbind people in the name of Jesus, and enable them to be free, to be faithful!

However, there seems to be a real genetic push within people, to bind up others. This is sometimes shown through some Church practices, and often straight out desiring power over others. Often the inadequacies within ourselves show their ugly faces through putting people in boxes, stamping a label on them, and putting them in a corner, all roped up! If that happens, we are the ones that are blind, we are lacking in God’s inner life, and once labeled; there is no room for change. Finally, notice that many of the people who saw this LIVING SIGN of God’s new life in Jesus, believed in Him. Conversely, when we as Intercessors of the Lord, go about unbinding others, the on lookers have a big chance of believing in the Lord. Let’s move on to looking at some further human outbursts of Jesus, and the effect that it had on others in terms of unbinding!!!

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Throughout the Gospels, Jesus does not hide His feelings. He is moved with love whenever He sees people like sheep without a shepherd … He wept over Jerusalem before His Passion. In a scream of surrender from the Cross, Jesus cried out ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ The Roman Centurion, standing at the foot of the Cross and hearing Jesus breathe His last, was brought to faith by observing that ‘This was a great and good man.’ In raising Lazarus from the tomb, Jesus was saying not only to His friend, but also to all of us … ‘Death could not bind you. I have come to bring you to life and to make you free!’ But there is more being said here in this Gospel story. We see the anguish of Mary and Martha over the death of their brother! We also see that for Jesus, their place was His home away from home! Jesus enters into the anguish of these two sisters and shares genuinely in their grief. At the same time, He challenges them to believe ‘I am the Resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will never die (eternally) Do you believe this?’ And Martha said, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, and the one who has come into the world.’ Jesus was not only putting this question to Martha, He is also putting it to us! And what will our response be? Lent is the perfect time to think this over.

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When the chips are down, faith is our great ally in facing death. It does not mean that we have all the answers or that we are absented from grief or loss. On the contrary, the walking through grief and loss and the shedding of tears, either as individuals but hopefully as a community, is necessary for our spiritual/human development. Surely, true compassion for those who suffer loss is really sharing in their suffering so that they know that they are not alone. As the famous English writer C. S. Lewis once said, ‘The greatest lovers in this world are those who have suffered much’. Finally, did you know that we are all called Lazarus? Well, we are! The fact that we are ‘salt of the earth and light of the world’, our relationship with God in Jesus, enables us to be all called: ‘God has helped’, because it is true! Can you remember times when Intercessors, acting in the name of Jesus have unbound you? Something to ponder as we come closer to Holy Week! Let us give thanks and praise in our Sunday Eucharist for all that God has done, is doing and will continue to do in us!

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Fr Kevin Walsh
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

Heart Cross 2

 

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5th Sunday of Lent Year A 2014. Unbind him, let him be free! A Homelitic Reflection By Fr.Kevin Walsh- Sydney Australia

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Each week as we listen to the various Gospel stories, the risk is that they are so familiar to us, that we can be blinded to the significance of the evergreen Word being proclaimed to us now. Whenever God’s Word is proclaimed, an invitation is extended to us, and our response depends on the ‘alertness’ of our minds and hearts to the activity of the Spirit within us.

Today we hear the familiar and so very touching story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. Notice that Jesus cried! As we journey through the Gospels, there are many examples of Jesus being moved with emotion. Jesus sighs; Jesus is angry; Jesus loves with a heart set on fire by His Father … a heart, which reaches out, to all people in ordinary and difficult situations. Sometimes, His response causes a negative reaction among the people around him, because his invitation cuts right through to the bone.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus does not hide His feelings. He is moved with love whenever he sees people like sheep without a shepherd … He wept over Jerusalem before His Passion. In an outpouring of surrender from the Cross, Jesus cried out ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ The Roman Centurion, standing at the foot of the Cross, and hearing Jesus breathe his last, was brought to faith through gifted insight (faith) ‘This was a great and good man.’ In raising Lazarus from the tomb, Jesus was saying not only to His friend, but also to all of us … ‘Death cannot bind you. I have come to bring you to life and make you free!’ But there is more being said here in this Gospel story. We see the anguish of Mary and Martha over the death of their brother! We also see that for Jesus, their place was His home away from home! Jesus enters into the anguish of these two sisters and shares genuinely in their grief. This is true Biblical compassion. At the same time, He challenges them to believe ‘I am the Resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will never die (eternally) Do you believe this?’ And Martha said, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, and the one who has come into the world.’ Jesus was not only putting this question to Martha, He puts it to us! And what is our response? Lent is the perfect time to think this over and renew our response.

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Finally, let’s not forget the significance and ongoing command from Jesus in his words: “Unbind him, let him go free!”This command was not only for Lazarus, this command is to all disciples of Jesus for all time. In looking at this command from Jesus, we are called to unbind ourselves, and be instruments of freedom to all people, so that they can be free! This is not just our desire or wish; this is the living out of the prayer of Jesus for all time. We must to do our part with Jesus in the fulfilment of His prayer. Look at ourselves! What needs to be unbound in us? What unspiritual speed humps cause us to be enslaved? Surely, being Christ’s hands, feet, eyes, ears and heart, we need to recognise this in ourselves, and then through the deepest of compassion, be instruments of the Lord, in unbinding and enabling freedom in others. On this the 5th Sunday of Lent, as we are on the brink on entering into the holiest of weeks, we are called to reflect upon this important and  pivotal message as we experience ‘being saved’, and being Angels in human form for others to experience ‘being saved’; (Salvation.) Let’s not forget that the saving hand of God were the hands that unbound, and set Lazarus free! How have you experienced that in your life? Food for thought, eh? When the chips are down, faith is our great ally in facing death. It does not mean that we have all the answers or that we are absented from grief or loss. On the contrary, the walking through grief and loss, and the shedding of tears, either as individuals but hopefully as a community, is necessary for our spiritual/human development. Surely, true compassion for those who suffer loss is really sharing in their suffering in a profound way. As the famous English writer C. S. Lewis once said, ‘The greatest lovers in this world are those who have suffered much’.  Something to ponder, as we come closer to Holy Week!

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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