I can hear birds chirping outside my window. The spring flowers are just beginning to send up their green shoots as they awaken from their winter’s slumber. Easter Sunday is just two weeks away, but this issue of death is what’s on my mind this morning.
“The issue before us is death.” These somber words are the opening words of a sermon given by Chris Hedges at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada on January 20th, 2019. His forecast for doom and gloom are chilling and should cause any thinking person to pause and consider what’s going on in our world, ecologically, economically, politically and morally. What are we doing to this creation that God is giving us? What are we doing to ourselves, to one another, out of greed and rampant consumerism? What are we doing to future generations, to our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond? The issue before us is death.
If you’re a Catholic in a parish that will be welcoming new Christians in baptism at the Easter Vigil this year, the gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent is the story of Lazarus (Gospel of John 11:1-45) and that is the gospel I heard proclaimed at mass this weekend. In this story of a dying man, his sisters send word to Jesus saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” But Jesus arrives too late and their brother dies; they have lost hope. When Jesus arrives he weeps over the death of this man he loves, but he is not too late to restore Lazarus to life and to his family.
This brought an image to my mind of Jesus weeping over me, indeed over all of us, who have fallen into the death that is sin, of the Creator weeping over his creatures who are squandering the inheritance of his creation like the Prodigal Son wasted his father’s inheritance in the gospel I heard last Sunday (Gospel of Luke 15:1-3, 11-32).
When Jesus arrives at the grave of Lazarus he cries out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” For the first time in all the times that I’ve heard this gospel, I thought … Lazarus had a choice. Jesus did not go into the grave and carry him out; Jesus called to him. Lazarus had to get up and walk out of the grave for himself even though he was bound with his burial wrappings.
The issue before us is death, but Jesus continually offers the hope of new life. Will we hear his cry? Will we fight the sin that binds, come out of our graves, and live as the daughters and sons of God we were created to be? Will we become better stewards of this magnificent creation we have inherited before we lay it all to waste?
Tune into our radio station right now or anytime today to hear a variety of music: Contemporary Christian, Contemporary Catholic Inspirational, songs of Peace & Justice, a playlist called Sabbath as Resistance. Bookmark the station (and follow our blog, please) so you can tune in again at 9:00 p.m. for the playlist, Money, Money, Money and at 10:00 p.m. for The End of the World As We Know It.