The church celebrates the 5th Sunday of lent, with readings that point out the fact that a life that is united with the life of Christ is a necessity for the salvation of souls. This is seen in the three readings for this 5th Sunday of Lent. In the 1st reading, the prophet Ezekiel gives the people a message of hope that is rooted in the resurrection and newness of life. At this point in time in the life of the Israelites, they have lost hope as a result of the difficulties they were encountering as a people. The captivity in Babylon have broken the people and the prophet was assuring them that God is going to make their lives better than it was at that time. We see this in the statement of the prophet that “God will bring them back to their homeland, put his spirit in them and they will live”. This is a promise of newness of life that awaits the Israelites. All hope was not lost, because God was going to change their story to something better in no distant time.

In the second reading for this Sunday, from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, he reminds us about the need for us to have the spirit of Christ which is our identity as his followers. It is the spirit of Christ that can bring us the fullness of life that will lead us to life eternal at the end of our earthly pilgrimage. In view of this, we need to imbibe the spirit of Christ because it is a necessity in our life as children of God; without which one would be empty. We are all encouraged to have the spirit of Christ which gives us our identity as people who belong to him. Anyone who do not have the spirit of Christ, do not belong to him. Thus, the flesh has no power over us as children of God. Suffice it to say that we are people of the spirit, just like Christ himself.

In the gospel reading from St. John, we are presented with the story of the death of Lazarus and the proclamation of Jesus, that he is the “resurrection and the life”. A message was sent across to Jesus that his friend Lazarus was ill, he did not go immediately. His statement was that, “this sickness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the son of God may be glorified by means of it”. Truly, everything ended to the glory of God as Jesus had said; Lazarus was brought back to life. There are a lot of things to learn from the gospel passage. The first one is the faith that the two sisters had in Jesus; “if you were here our brother would not have died” and Martha said “… even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you”. Their faith is worthy of emulation and Jesus did not disappoint them at the end. He is the resurrection and the life! This he showed by bringing Lazarus back to life. Another important lesson is that we have to respond to the voice of God at all times. Jesus said roll away the stone, and the people did it. Even though it was already four days since he died. We have to respond to the teachings of Christ from the scriptures.

Lastly, Jesus said “Lazarus come out” and he obeyed the words of Jesus. Obedience in our relationship with God is very important. This was how Jesus brought Lazarus back to life. In the same way, Jesus is calling us out of the life challenges that is facing us at the moment; especially during this period of the pandemic of Corona virus. Let us respond to his call that we be united with him in spirit and watch him heal our land and restore peace in our troubled world.

May God set us free from anything that is holding us captive like Lazarus in our lives. Peace be with you. Amen.

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year A, by Fr. Jude Ifezime, C.S.Sp