Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Our world seems in darkness right now. Our lives and all human lives are being threatened by so called Novel Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. We all are living in darkness right now with an uncertainty of life. However, with this fear in mind we are moving into 5th Sunday of Lent.
On this 5th Sunday of Lent, all the readings talk about life and resurrection. In the first reading, Prophet Ezekiel talks about God is raising us from our graves and putting his spirit in us. In second reading, St Paul urges us not to put in unspiritual things but to put in the spiritual thing, which is the spirit of Christ. If we put the Spirit of Christ in us, even though our body may be dead, it is because of sin, we will have life through Christ. In the Gospel reading, we hear about the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. This story, of course, is a foretaste of our own life and dead. It is prefiguring of our resurrection. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus shows us that he is the Messiah and we come to believe in him. It also shows us that we are not the people of the dead but of the living. However, in order to achieve this eternal life, we need to have faith in Jesus.
Yes, having faith in God is not always easy because we can be put to the test and our faith can be challenged in some way or the other, especially when we are in difficult time. I am not saying we don’t have faith, of course we do, that is why we gather together in the church to hear the word of God and to receive Jesus in Holy Communion on every Sunday. But, let me ask you, how much faith do we have in God? How strong is our faith in him? This is something we need to reflect on and ask ourselves. In today’s Gospel, we hear the profession of Martha, which she said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world”, she even believes in the resurrection of the dead which she said, “I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.” And yet, her faith is carried away by doubt by saying “Lord by now he will smell; this is fourth day.”
Friends, sometimes we can be like Martha. Our faith can be carried away especially when we are in difficult and challenging time, when we are in panic and in fear. The best example is what is happening right now, not just in our country but the whole world – Novel Coronavirus Covid-19. Because of this virus we are in difficult time now not just in socialising but also our jobs. There are many people who lost their jobs and many people whose job’s hour are cut short. Our normal live routine is suddenly changed, and our daily activities are going upside down. Because of these, we are worrying about our job, worrying about our family and their survival. Now we can’t go to our church and receive our Lord in Holy Communion. We can’t even go to our church to do a private prayer. This is very painful and sad thing happen to us because celebration of the Eucharist is the core of our catholic faith. Receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, especially, on Sunday is nourishment of our physical and spiritual wellbeing. The worse thing is our lives are in danger of death. All of us are now living in fear and an uncertainty of life.
I don’t blame you that if we are in doubt and some of you might be questioning to God; how could you allow to happen this? How could you let it happen to your children? We hear what Mary and Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” We may say similar way to Jesus, “Lord, if you love and care for us, we would not be in this situation; if you love and care for us, our life would not be in danger of death.”
However, our Lord promises us that he is with us always. He said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matt 18:20). He also gives us courage, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28). Friends, our loving Lord will never abandon us and leave us alone. He knows when we are in distress and he cries with us when we cry. As he gives joy to Mary and Martha by raising Lazarus from the dead, he will give us joy and courage from our distress and fear not only from this earthly life but also everlasting life. Only thing is we need to have faith in him. Our faith is essential to overcome any fear and doubt especially when we are in challenging time. That is why Jesus said, which is very much encouraging for us, “I am the resurrection and the life, if anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” As he was asking Martha, our Lord is asking us the same thing – Do you believe this? When Martha was in doubt saying, “Lord by now he will smell; this is the fourth day”, our Lord insisted second time, “Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” Yes, I know that after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the disciples were hiding in the upper room in fear of the Romans. Likewise, we all are in fear of this virus and scare to go out from our home. But in faith, the disciples were together in the upper room praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, so we can be together in prayers, of course not in person but in spirit, to support one another so that like the disciples, through the power of the Holy Spirit we may overcome from any fear and together we will be in triumph from this virus.
Friends, therefore, do not let our faith goes astray in God by doubt like Martha but trust in him still and we will overcome from worries and distress. We will not live in darkness of this virus for ever. But through these circumstances, we will see the glory of God. Whenever we go into tunnel, we will see light in the end of the tunnel. Likewise, there is always hope in the end of every trial. That is why Jesus said, which is very encouraging for us, “this sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified.” So, friends, in faith and trust, we pray together with the Psalmist, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, Lord here my voice! O let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleading…. because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption, …. indeed, he will redeem from all iniquity.”
May God bless you and keep your family safe from every danger. And may he give you comfort and courage in this challenging time. Amen.