Give me justice, O God, and please my cause against a nation that is faithless. From the deceitful and cunning rescue me, for you, O God, are my strength.
A reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent from Father Tudgay.
There is an important point of discernment that we must acknowledge as Christians. That point of discernment applies to how we understand and apprehend the suffering, struggle, and negative circumstances that seem to be lurking everywhere. With the barrage of negative news and the temptation toward doomscrolling, we can easily be sucked in by all of the negative and challenging circumstances in our world. We can be led to think that the negative and challenging circumstances are reality. We can even be led into despair, into the temptation not to pray for the suffering around us.
Our First Reading this Sunday begins with the image of the grave, the most tangible symbol of death, right? Ezekiel captures something that is mesmerizing, especially in the context of the Gospel passage. The symbol of the grave is something that we associate as final, or static. Case closed. The end. It's over. Peace out. Ezekiel’s prophetic message only makes sense in light of the Gospel passage because, for the Jews, memory was the only medium through which a person was “kept alive” after their death. Hence, we have the importance of tradition in salvation history. Ezekiel’s use of the verb “rise” would have either been misunderstood or simply ignored at the time. Just like today, for the Jews, death was it. Game over. Lights out. So long.
The Gospel passage, obviously, represents infinitely more than Jesus’ exercise of his power over death solely for Lazarus. The miracle that Jesus performs symbolizes what, in his resolute determination, leads him to Jerusalem to take on death, itself. Suddenly, life after death takes on an entire new meaning. Death is not the end, nor does it capture a sense of finality or doom anymore. Death no longer means that a person is captured only in memory or story after they’re gone. Death, for the Christian, means eternal life and this reality is the source of hope in our world.
There are “mini-deaths” that we experience during our earthly pilgrimage. We recover and grow and transform from them. Because of Jesus Christ and because of our faith, we understand that death is not the final answer. Hopefully, this shapes how we view life. Hopefully, this shapes how we view the present moment with all of its challenges.
By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God, may we walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, you Son handed himself over to death.