Newsletter for Sunday 2 April 2017

31 Mar

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

The Lord says this:  I am now going to open your graves;  I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and led you back to the soil of Israel … And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live … “ (Ezek. 37:12 ff)

Jesus cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!”  The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with strips of material and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, let him go free.’ (Jn. 11:43)

In Jesus’ raising of Lazarus to new life we see the prophecy of Ezekiel being fulfilled:         ‘I shall raise you from you graves … and you will live’.    

The story of Lazarus is a story of a man with a real identity: he is the brother of Martha and Mary and a close friend of Jesus.  It is a story about sickness and death, sadness and joy.  It is a story about dying and coming back to life. 

It is also a story that points to us being unbound from our sins, from all that estranges us from God and separates us from our neighbours. It is a story of being unbound from our fears and doubts and from all the things which prevent us from being our true selves.  It is a story of stepping over the bindings, being freed from death (- the death of sin -) and standing in the light of the Lord and walking with newness of life. 

Didn’t Jesus say to his Apostles, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Mt.18:18)?   So, whenever we repent and confess our sins to a priest who is acting in persona Christi, we will hear those words of “loosening” and “freedom”:    ‘I absolve you of your sins …’  And in hearing those words, Jesus’ command to unbind Lazarus and set him free, become a reality in our own lives.

Let us examine our consciences.  Let us examine our lives and ask the Lord: ‘Lord, how have I offended you?’  ‘Lord, tell me what are the sins that I have committed which have bound me and kept me in darkness?’ 

Fr Philip Sainter

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