Fifth Sunday of Lent – A Ez 37:12-14 Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 Rom 8:8-11 Mt 11:1-45, or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45
My niece recently gave birth to her second child, John Robert. Initially we thought he might come very early in the pregnancy, but eventually he made it to full term.
His birth made me start thinking about what the process might be like from his perspective. Being in the womb is all he ever knew before his birth. There were indications that there might be something outside – light, voices, certain pressures that made the walls of the womb touch him. Then, all of a sudden, things started happening that propelled him into our world.
If he could have understood language, it might have reassured him if his mother could have told him that, after the birth, he would get to know her in a whole different way, in a way beyond his imagining right now. It might have helped him if he could have been told that there was a world, an amazing world, on the other side of the womb that had been his home.
The process of birth might be difficult, a little scary, but it would lead to the life he was really meant to live.
I hope by now you are seeing the connections to today’s readings. During this Fifth Week of Lent, we are being assured of the reality of the resurrection from the dead.
Jesus came so that we might know that this resurrected life is the final purpose for which we have been created. We are meant to have life eternal, and that life is given to us through the life-giving power of the Spirit of God.
He came into this world to show us that just as God has been with us in all the aspects of our life up to this point, he will be there in an even greater way in the new creation in which we participate through our death and resurrection.
Entry into the resurrection comes to us by way of our death. It is a difficult process, and we can be afraid and might have doubts about this promise of life beyond our earthly life. This is because this is all we have known. But there are signs from the other side of this life that let us know there is more to life than we ever could have imagined.
The light of the resurrected Christ is already visible in the world through the witness of his disciples and through his own actions in our lives. We hear his voice, although not always clearly, encouraging us on our journey to Him at each step along the way.
We feel his touch through his providential action in our lives and again through the love of our brothers and sisters.
We can live this earthly life as if it were our only world, but inevitably and at a time not of our own choosing, God will call us to a new birth through our own death and resurrection – a process by which we will come to know him in a way beyond our imaging at this moment.
Yet, he wants us to come to him unafraid and with an act of faith not possible when, as little children, we came into this world. So, we have the witness of his own death and resurrection and the invitation to make our own statement of belief in the words of encouragement he gives us today:
“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Msgr. Timothy Keeney is pastor of Incarnation, Charlottesville.