Chapter Talk – Fifth Sunday of Lent – March 26, 2023, cycle-A
The Divine cry: ‘Lazarus, come out’ (Jn 11:1-45). The cry of God calling us all out of the tombs of death. Yes, we will all physically die someday. But here we are the so-called ‘living’ who in many ways live like we are entombed, diminishing ourselves, diminishing the gift of life that God has graced us with. We are created in the image and likeness of God. While the likeness gets tarnished by not living up to the freedom to which we are each called, by the many ways we choose death over life, the image remains intact. Nothing can diminish the image of God that we are stamped with. The Divine voice will not stop crying out in the depths of our hearts.
We are called to listen to Christ’s voice…he goes before us always calling us out of the tombs of death that we have constructed. Let us hear, let us receive the Divine voice: ‘Take away the stone’… ‘Come out’. What a powerful encounter between Christ and us: ‘Remove the stone from your heart…and come out of your tomb’. ‘Behold’…see…there is more, love will transform, love will have the final word. God’s life is so much more than we can imagine…Our faith encounters the God of the living…God’s word in Christ is greater than all the barriers we construct around our hearts.
After speaking about the theological underpinnings of this gospel, Pope Francis offers the following reflection for our daily lives. He writes: “‘I am the resurrection and the life’ … have faith. Amid grief, continue to have faith, even when it seems that death has won. Take away the stone from your heart! Let the Word of God restore life where there is death….We are thus called to take away the stones of all that suggests death: for example, the hypocrisy with which faith is lived, is death; the destructive criticism of others, is death; insults, slander, are death; the marginalization of the poor, is death. The Lord asks us to remove these stones from our hearts, and life will then flourish again around us. Christ lives, and those who welcome him and follow him come into contact with life” (Angelus, March 29th, 2020). We are to approach all that Jesus says and teaches with new eyes and an open, converted heart. Jesus is teaching a new way. New wine and fresh skins line his words and thinking. Encountering Jesus and his words are to help us behold the saving presence of God. The Word of Life, Christ, speaks in the silence of the heart. Rise, leave those noisy thoughts behind. Behold, see the gift God is offering you right now.
This gospel is an encounter of faith: between Christ and us: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’. Do you believe this? Can we say ‘Yes, I do believe’ like Martha? Martha’s act of faith, her ‘yes’ already gives her the experience of eternal life. This new life for her becomes “the horizon for all further experience” of the life that comes out of death (Written That You May Believe, Schneiders, p.158). In the silence of the heart is the Divine cry: ‘Take away the stone from your heart!’. ‘Harden not your heart’, change your way of thinking and acting. And behold the beauty of life, eternal life, yes, eternal life now, sensed, tasted, lived from because we each are born of God. Let us be aware and acknowledge those tombs we construct. And let us not forget that we were created for life. The image of God upon our heart is eternal. We are graced with the Divine paradox: ‘Even though we die we shall live….and whoever believes in me will never die’.
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess