Sunday, 2 April 2017 : Fifth Sunday of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day of our Lord we heard the story of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus and the brother of Martha and Mary, our Lord’s companions, whom we all certainly are familiar with, as the one whom Jesus raised from the dead in front of many witnesses, showing all of them that He is the one and only Lord over life and death.

Lazarus was sick and then he died, just as all mankind will one day eventually die because that is the consequence of their sins. All of us have sinned against God and disobeyed His commandments, and that is why we have received death as the just punishment for those sins. And we by our nature fear death, because death is something that we do not desire, causing us to be separated from all the things we know and love in this world.

To that extent, many of us tried to extend our life and to preserve our youth, worrying that as we grow older, we draw closer to death and all the things we do not desire. We want the pleasures of our worldly life to remain forever, and we want to enjoy all the things that this life has to offer. Many of us even try to manipulate life itself, trying all sorts of methods to keep us away from dying.

But in reality and truth, it does not matter what we have done, nothing that we have done will be able to extend even a single moment of our life, as the Lord Himself mentioned, that in accordance with His will, all of our lives had been measured and determined. We cannot make it last longer or shorter, for it is not us who are in control of our lives, but it is the Lord Who is the Master of all life, and also the Master of death.

Jesus showed us all that by His power and authority, being the Master over life and death, just as much as death has power over us because of our sins, but it does not have the final say. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth mocked death, saying, “Death where is your victory, o death, where is your sting?” For he knew that there is One Who is able to defeat death, and He Himself had shown it by His own victory against death.

Yes, we see for ourselves, through the witness passed down to us from the Apostles and those who have witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, and also those whom saw Jesus risen in glory from the depth of hell, where He descended to during the time after He died on the cross. We saw how death can be overcome, if we put our trust in the One Who had conquered death, Christ Himself, our Lord and Saviour.

This Sunday is the last Sunday before the beginning of the Holy Week, the holiest time of the liturgical year, when we celebrate the very centre of our faith, the Passion and death, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the very reason for our faith and what we believe in. Therefore, through the readings on Lazarus’ resurrection, and also the passage from the first reading, where God promised His people through the prophet Ezekiel, that He would give them life, we are all reminded that our life is in the hands of the Lord.

By the baptism which we have received, we have in fact shared in the death of our Lord Jesus on the cross. We have been made to die to our past life and ways we once had. As I mentioned, we often spend a lot of time trying to preserve our life and our youth, but as we do so, we have committed things that are sinful and wicked in the sight of God. We neglect the duties and responsibilities we have, by not extending our hands to help all those who are in need around us, and instead being preoccupied with ourselves.

As we received the Sacrament of Baptism, we have been washed and made clean again, purified from the taints of our past sins, and we have received the promise of eternal life from the Master of life Himself. He Who have raised Lazarus from the dead, will also raise us from the dead, on the time of judgment, as He had promised all of us. It is the life in the world to come that we have to look out for, and not our current life in this world.

Jesus mentioned in another occasion that, we ought to seek not the treasures of this world, but instead, we should seek and build up for ourselves the treasures in the world that is to come. Why is that so? That is because all the things that we have in this world will not last, be it money, possessions, fame, influence, appearances and any other things that we often crave for, desire and wish for.

All of these things will easily perish and disappear, and it is often that despite all the things we do to keep them, we ave to realise that, first of all, these do not give us true satisfaction, and even more importantly, none of these will be carried by us over when we die. No matter how rich, powerful or influential we are, all of us will die because of our sins.

But when we live in the Lord, believing in Him and in His promise of salvation, all of us will have a new hope in us, because we know that if we remain faithful in Him, we shall live forever with Him in glory, and enjoy forever the fullness of love and grace of God. We shall no longer feel sadness, sorrow and any other forms of fear. We shall be satisfied and joyful, because the Lord is with us, and He provides us all with all that we ever need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach the end of the season of Lent and coming close to the celebration of the Holy Week, let us spend some time to reflect on our lives thus far. Are we too busy and preoccupied in our lives trying to accumulate for ourselves more money, more worldly possessions, more fame and influence, and more of other things we want and desire in life?

Are we too busy thinking about the days to come, all the plans we have prepared for our lives? Are we too busy with all these things that we forget about all that we need to do in life, as our Lord had commanded us to do? And what is that, brothers and sisters in Christ? What is it that we need to do? It is to love God with all of our strength and with all of our heart, and to show that same love to our brethren, especially to those who have no one to love them.

Yes, that is precisely our obligation as Christians. We ought to love each other, as the Lord Himself has loved us. God has given us all His love, and we ought to show the same love to one another. Let us all make the commitment to love and to care for each other, instead of being selfish and being preoccupied with ourselves. Remember, the Lord alone has power over life and death, and for all of us who have believed in Him, and having received the holy Sacrament of Baptism, our salvation is assured.

There is no need for us to worry about anything, as the Lord Himself will take care of everything for us. God will not abandon all those who have faith in Him. He will care for them and protect them, and provide them all they need. Let us all renew our efforts to be true disciples and followers of our Lord, beginning from today onwards so that we may draw closer to God, and at the same time, also help all those who are lost along the way, that they too may find their way to the Lord.

And finally, let us all pray for all those who are about to be baptised in this Easter, that they too may share the life God had promised and given us all. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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