Sunday Reflections – Fifth Sunday of Lent

The Fifth Sunday of Lent marks the beginning of the “strong time” of the Season.  The Church’s Liturgy this weekend invites us into an even more intense preparation for the Paschal Mysteries which will be unraveled throughout Holy Week.  Like the last two Sundays, the readings direct us to be ever mindful of the catechumens among us in their final preparation for newness of life through the saving waters of Baptism.  However, this profound truth of new life in Christ is not limited to those who are longing for Baptism.  The community of the baptized (the Church) participates in this great act of liberation from death by celebrating the other six Sacraments of salvation as well.  We are called to witness our baptismal sharing in this new life and light of Christ.  Through His Church, Christ continues to call all of us out of death into a sharing in His life.  Our slavery to sin is shattered by Christ’s victory over death and newness of life is poured into all of us by the Holy Spirit!

The prophesy of Ezekiel (our first reading today) and the raising of Lazarus (the Gospel narrative) challenge us to deepen our faith in the God who calls us  into life, sustains life and conquers the enemy of life (death) through His plan of salvation!  I always say we need to wear our “Paschal glasses” in connecting all these dots that are prefigured in the Old Testament and manifested for us in the Gospel message of salvation.  St. Paul, in our second reading today, sets before us the Easter Effect in all our lives!  The Spirit of God dwelling in us means life!  This is what “belonging to Christ” by virtue of our Baptism is all about!

As we remember our sisters and brothers around the globe who will be entering into this sacred mystery of life by the Easter Sacraments, let’s love and support them with our prayers.  Let’s pray, too, for the baptized among us who wish to enter into fullness of life with us in the Catholic Church by their renewal and Profession of Faith.  May the Spirit of God give us heroic virtue in being outstanding witnesses before them and all people in what newness of life in Christ truly means.

The turbulent times in which we find our world today are ripe for living our Easter faith!  The Coronavirus pandemic and its associated panic have a strong grip on us but God has an even greater hold on us!  Let’s witness to the Easter Effect in each of our lives and do our part to promote life and wellness.  Let’s pray for those who are struggling with this illness and those doing battle against it.  The power of death will be overcome by new life afforded us in God’s plan.  Let’s heed the loud voice of Christ: “Lazarus, come out!” and as co-partners with Him, as members of His Church and children of light, let’s untie and set free all who long to be liberated from darkness and despair.