From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
April 3 – Fifth Sunday in Lent
Our third scrutiny gospel is the story of Jesus bringing back to life Lazarus from Bethany. Jesus in his obedience to and dependence upon the Father has the authority to give life to whom he will. He is “the Resurrection and the Life.” This week we shift from a focus on the sinfulness of our lives that we must overcome to the immense grace and mercy of Jesus who draws us out of death into life. Death is a certainty for all of us – it is a part of the human condition created by the sin of Adam and Eve. It is only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus that eternal life awaits those who believe and say “Yes Lord, I believe!” We have his assurance that if we walk with the Spirit and allow the Spirit to walk with us, eternal salvation will be ours.
Jesus acts in concert with and obedience to the Father’s will as he raises Lazarus. The very name Lazarus means “God helps.” Jesus offers his prayers of thanksgiving for all to see and hear that they might know who Jesus is, and from where his authority comes. He reminds us of the importance of prayer first to guide all of our actions, and to seek God’s help. Prayer to know His will, prayer to accept His will and prayer to follow His will – in all things! That desire calls us to walk in the Spirit in all things.
Of particular note is the end of the passage when Jesus cries out in a loud voice “Lazarus, come out.” And when Lazarus came out, he instructed them to “untie him and let him go.” There was no need for Jesus to call to Lazarus to come out, nor to have others unbind him. These actions were not for Jesus’s benefit, but rather for ours. While he calls each of us from the death and darkness of sin (particularly through our baptism), we each also have a responsibility to help one another overcome the sins and challenges that bind us up each day. We are to free others from their difficulties in life. As we unbind them from their challenges in life, they unbind us from our prejudices, from our pride, and from our self-centeredness. We grow in our humility and patience and the Spirit of God comes to dwell fully in us and we come to know the Lord that we may believe. We become as the woman at the well, the man blind from birth and, Mary from the gospel this week, saying, “Yes Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” We come to believe because we see the power of God manifested through our actions and the actions of others.
As Vincentians, our call to holiness comes through the unbinding of the poor and less fortunate. We must tap into our charism of friendship to both our neighbors and to one another to loosen the grips of suffering for our neighbors. In prayer and thanksgiving we need to seek the will of the Father as we seek solutions to the challenges in life for our neighbors and ourselves. As Jesus reaches back to each of us through the Eucharist (the Thanksgiving of love eternal), we must become like Eucharist to one another. How well do I embrace my call to unbind others, helping them through their sufferings to find the hope of Christ that awaits them.
Lord Jesus, unbind me from my sins and give me the courage to do likewise for others. Let me be your instrument that others may come to know you through my ministry to them. Reveal to me your spirit of faith and hope through those whom you bring to me. Allow me to join the woman at the well, the blind man and Mary of Bethany proclaiming your goodness and testifying to your Word though my words and actions. We pray all of this in your name. Amen