Saturday, April 9, 2011

5th Sunday of Lent, April 10, 2011 (Cycle A)

Link to today's Readings, Psalmody and Gospel

{We will end our homily today with some contemplative thoughts that hopefully will carry us through the day and the week}

Today we will speak a bit about the Holy Spirit, and the resurrection from the dead.

But first, imagine you are surrounded by beautiful olive trees.  They are green, sturdy and thick.  The slope you are on is gentle and moving toward the valley below.  To the one side of the mount, there are thousands of gravesides, marked by their simplicity and their above ground tombs. On the other side of the valley is the ruins of a temple mount, its fortified wall still intact.  Within that wall is a glorious gate, once called the "Golden Gate" but now sealed up.

What are we speaking about?  The olive grove is in the Mount of Olives.  The valley below is the Kidron valley and the golden gate is the entranceway to the old city of Jerusalem.

 View of the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives.  Olive grove is in lower right (Gesthemane)  "Golden Gate" is walled up on other side of valley, in the top left portion of the picture.  The tombs are in the foreground.

At the end of time, the Messiah will walk down the hill through the valley and golden gate and walk into the "new" Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem.  This is essentially what we hear today from the prophet Ezekiel in our first reading (one of the great prophets of the Old Testament).  He says, "I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel."

We must remember an important tenet of O.T. prophecy, that God is speaking to us directly through his prophesized word, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  So because Jesus is God, and is not confined by time or space, Ezekiel is speaking of the expectant Messiah “Jesus” when he says I will open your graves and have you rise from them.

In our reading from Paul, who is arguably the greatest prophet of the New Testament, the Apostle tells us how we can be resurrected.  We must live in the Spirit.  "The Spirit will give life to your mortal bodies also, through the Spirit dwelling within you". What does this mean?

Firstly, we receive the Spirit in the Sacraments.  This Sunday I will have the privilege to Baptize 9 babies.  The babies will receive the Spirit of God in their Baptism, they will be marked forever by Christ, conformed to Him who is God.  This comes to them through the actions of the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of the priest or deacon.

We also receive the Spirit in all the other Sacraments.  Especially in Holy Communion, the sweetest and most sublime of all the Sacraments.  But let us discuss a few others.

In reconciliation, as difficult as this has become in a world that wants to marginalize religious practice, we receive the Spirit through the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ.  That is what absolution is and it can lead to profound grace, an indwelling of the Spirit for a prolonged period of time.  This can be very powerful and helpful, affirming our spiritual journey.

In Marriage, a man and a women offer their consent to each other, which is witnessed by God.  This promise is that they will no longer live for themselves but for the family they are about to create.  We do this in Church so as to receive the grace of the Sacrament, present before the living Lord in the Tabernacle (the Eucharistic Species).

So, you see, the Spirit is visibly present in the Sacraments, through the actions of the minister and then received by those who are recipients of these powerful gifts of Christ through His Church. 

In our Gospel today we hear the powerful story of Lazarus, the man who was dead who is risen by Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  It is a powerful story.  It is a story that is heard at many funerals, perhaps one that we may remember.

One of the reasons that we hear it so much is because we hear that Jesus weeps when he realize how frustrated are those at him because he allowed it to happen.  Our Lord is saddened and frustrated not by Lazarus' death and its emotional effects on the man's kin.  The Messiah is saddened and frustrated because his closest disciples do not yet realize that Jesus has come to destroy death forever, not just in the temporal sense.

Lazarus, surely, will die again after this episode.  If he didn't than certainly we would all be hearing about it on the news, that there is a 2000 something year old man roaming the earth.  No, our Lord lifts Lazarus so as to indicate that he himself will too rise on Easter morning.
Let us recapitulate or “re-cap” what we just have been hearing:
·        At the end of time, Jesus will raise the faithful from our graves and lead us into heaven.  We refer to this in scripture as the New Jerusalem.
·        The Spirit or Holy Spirit is present in the world from the beginning of time and has inspired prophets to speak the word of God.
·        The Spirit animates the Seven Sacraments of the Church.  We discussed Baptism, Eucharist briefly, Reconciliation and Marriage.
·        Our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead for a time, to prepare his disciples to understand Our Lord’s  bodily resurrection on Easter Sunday before his ascension into heaven.

In one weeks time we will celebrate Palm Sunday, that day 2000 years ago when our Lord enters Jerusalem through the Golden Gate.  Today, as we enter our last week of Lent….
we pray for the resurrection of the body and the Spirit that is coming on let us:
  • Return to the Spirit we hear so much about and contemplate the Third Person of the known Triune God (known through our human limitations)
  • Let us dwelling in the Spirit, contemplate our lives........
  • Let us rmember that at Mass, the Spirit will change the gifts of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord.  The Real Presence of God through the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • This precious Blessed Sacrament, the sweetest bread from heaven is administered through the Holy Ministry of Priesthood..............

No comments:

Post a Comment