Don’t miss invitation for deeper relationship with God

Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year A

Ez 37:12-14, Ps 130: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, Rm 8:8-11, Jn 11:1-45

 Lent is always an invitation to expand in faith, to grow deeper in relationship with Christ, to make a more intense commitment with our lives to Jesus. That is the plan, but in execution it is often quite different.

Many years we can experience Lent as a time of increased occasions of prayer, but not as transformative of our lives. Some years we might get to the end of Lent and realize that it has passed without any effect on our lives.

To paraphrase St. Paul, during Lent we know the good we ought to do yet find ourselves doing the opposite.

The Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent is the account of the miracle of the raising of Lazarus in St. John’s Gospel. John gives us seven signs in his Gospel each of which is an invitation to a deeper act of faith in and for Jesus.  The seven signs include:

  1. Turning water into wine (Jn 2:1-12)
  2. Healing the nobleman’s son (Jn 4:46-54)
  3. Healing the lame man at the pool (Jn 5:1-11)
  4. Feeding of the 5,000 (Jn 6:1-15)
  5. Walking on water (Jn 6:16-21)
  6. Healing a man born blind (Jn 9:1-12)
  7. Raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11)

These signs have a direction and goal. They are meant to move us to an act of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus – a sign and reality that changes everything.

Lent has the same direction and goal and that is why we have the sixth and seventh signs as our Gospels for the Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent.

God knows that our faith grows, that we go through stages of growth in our physical and our spiritual lives. The signs invite us to grow in our faith in Jesus from faith in him being Lord of nature and of our life in this world, to where we can make an action of faith in him as the Lord of Eternal Life.

That invitation calls us to radically alter how we live in this world now, to give adequate testimony to that deeper act of faith.

We cannot be naïve. There are powerful forces — interior and exterior — that stand in the way of making such an act of faith.

One practical example, which study after study and practical observation confirms, is that our connection to our phones and other internet capable devices is having a profoundly negative effect on our ability to relate to one another. This has been the source of dysfunctional behavior in our culture and moral lives.

Yet, fasting from our phones and devices, or even establishing a different relationship with them, is among the most difficult tasks we can undertake.

We might agree in the abstract that this is necessary to allow us to have a deeper relationship with Christ, but, like the image from the Book of Proverbs, we are like dogs that return to their vomit.

We are now coming to the close of Lent and in the following week we will begin Holy Week. It is not too late.

The power of Christ came into people’s lives in each of these signs in a way that transformed them. Reflecting on the sign of the resurrection of Lazarus, and all the signs that God gives us in our daily lives, don’t miss the invitation for a deeper relationship and act of faith that he is giving to each one of us.






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