Gospel Reflection for March 29, 2020, 5th Sunday of Lent

Sunday Readings: Ezekiel 37.12-14; Romans 8.8-11; John 11.1-45

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would never have died. Even now I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask,” said Martha.
“Your brother will rise again,” said Jesus.
“I know he will rise again on the last day,” said Martha.
“I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though they die, will come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the messiah, the Son of God; he who is to come into the world.” – John 11.21-27

Like Martha and Mary in Sunday’s gospel we inevitably stand at the graves of those we love. Perhaps it is misting as it was when we stood at my mother’s grave and each shoveled dirt into the place of her resting. It was October. This final family act of love seemed like a fall planting for an as yet uncertain spring.

In our uncertain spring the virus sweeping the globe unites to protect us all and flatten the curve of those who die. Graphs project the effects of our distancing in the news. For those with family in senior homes distance pains. Hands that touch and soothe could infect, so we do love through a window and on the phone. We see how essential are our health workers, grocery clerks, and truckers are. We experience our shared humanity.

Jesus grieves in Sunday’s gospel for three people he loves. He stands with Martha and Mary not only at their brother’s grave but at his own. Raising Lazarus sets in motion his arrest and passion. None of us knows what lies beyond death. We have only our experience of God in our lives and in our holy history to go on. Henry Nouwen compares dying to the trust between trapeze artists. One lets go, trusting the other will catch him or her.

As believers we are companion in hope that the God who creates and sustains the world will raise us up. We live in promise. We walk with Jesus, who did not sidestep death but trust the God he experienced beloving and inspiriting him; he gave himself in human unknowing.

How does creation speak to you about who God is? How does the awakening Earth affect you? What do you hope takes wings in you and in our world as we live and love through the epidemic?

Prayer

God of us all, let us take heart in your loving creativity,
unfolding in the infinity of stars,
in the sun warming and awakening our winter-worn world.
Let us treasure the breaths that pulse with life in our veins,
imagine a world where no one spits on another.