5th Lenten Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

It is not always the easiest thing to say but many of us, at different times, have felt disappointed with God.  This week we have the story of Lazarus being brought back to life.  The Gospel tells us that Jesus waited two days longer after receiving the message that Lazarus was gravely ill.  And when he decided to go, it was Martha who ran to greet him while Mary stayed home.  The action of Mary, Lazarus’ sister, is different than other stories of her interaction with the Lord.  It was Mary who anointed the feet of Jesus with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair.  It was also Mary who sat at his feet listening to him while Martha was making all the preparations, to which Jesus replied that Mary had chosen the better part.  So we would think that it would be Mary who would be running to greet the Lord.  It seems to me that by staying home, Mary was intentionally expressing a sort of disappointment in the Lord.  The message had been sent.  The illness and situation had been described and yet the Lord waited two extra days.  It was as if the requests of Mary and Martha went unheard and unanswered by Christ.  In our own lives is it not true that many of our own prayers seem to go unanswered?  Do some of us not pray for health? But instead of health we are given a frightening diagnosis for ourselves or our loved ones.  Do not some of us pray for a job or a better one in order to provide for our families even more?  And yet rejection seems to be the only reply.  Do not some of us pray to find a person to love?  And yet loneliness seems to be the only thing we know.  The list of our prayer requests could go on and on.  Sometimes it is clear that our prayers have been answered and we are grateful and rejoice.  But there are other times, in which it seems, as with the experience of Mary and Martha, that the request is unheard.  In our confusion and lack of understanding of what God is doing, we may think it’s wrong to express such disappointment.  And yet I know that for God, such feelings are okay.  

One of my favorite parts in this week's Gospel is the message that Jesus gave to Martha for her sister.  When the Lord saw and heard that Mary had decided to stay home rather than come to him, he did not denounce her lack of faith or criticize her lack of politeness.  Rather he told Martha to go and get her sister, as the scripture says “He is calling for you.”  When Mary hears the message from Martha she stops what she is doing and runs to him.  When she reaches him, she kneels at his feet.  We know how the story ends— when Jesus saw Mary weeping he “was greatly disturbed in Spirit and deeply moved,” and he brought Lazarus back to life.  There are many things we could speak of and reflect on in this week’s Gospel, but what I find most helpful to look at are the two responses of Mary and the response of God in Christ.  I think there were two pains and sources of sadness within the heart of Mary.  The first, and most obvious, was the death of her brother.  The second came from the belief that God didn’t care, that God was deaf to her and that, really in a sense, God had ignored her.  In response she decided to ignore him as well.  But when the Lord called for her, scripture says she ran to meet him.  We can imagine in her heart the excitement and joy to know that the Lord has not forgotten her and continues to love her.  When she realizes that she remains in God’s heart hope returns to her.  She knows that God is here, and when God is here, in a way that we don’t always understand or cannot receive, things will be okay and our lives will not be destroyed. In our lives there is so much we cannot understand, there is so much in which it is hard to see God’s path and will in our lives.  Yet we remember that God is here and that God comes and so, in the end, we will be okay, we will not be destroyed.  The story of Lazarus tells us we are not made for death, destruction or despair. Rather we are made for life because we are made for love.  And so we know in faith no matter how dark and gloomy it may seem, God is here and God cares.  And like Mary, we kneel at his feet and say to him, “Because you are here, I know that it will be okay.  I will not be destroyed.”  

God Bless, and Take Care!

Weekly Parish Bulletin392.63 KB

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