Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rescue Operation / Lazarus (2013-03-17, Lent)

This is my homily for Sunday March 17, 2013 (Lent). I am a Catholic chaplain in Teaneck at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association and at New Jersey City University (NJCU) in Jersey City. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Evening (5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.) at the FDU University Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ.

Year A Readings / Ezekiel 37:12-14 | Psalm 130 | Romans 8:8-11 | John 11:1-45.
[__01] Lazarus, the friend of Jesus who had died, was later raised from the dead.   This is the Gospel of John,  Chapter 11, the raising of Lazarus.

Jesus said to his disciples and to those who are mourning, “This is illness is not to end in death.  (John 11:4)

This is illness is not to end in death.  

[__02]  We ourselves are called to extend our care to those who are suffering from illness, to those who are dying.
And, we do this not only to eliminate pain or discomfort. In fact, in many cases, we cannot relieve a person’s discomfort or physical suffering.

Yet, we care for a person who is ill because we believe that illness does not end in death.  And, we believe that death leads to eternal life.

[__03]  In a spiritual sense, though Lazarus is buried, Lazarus remains alive. His soul has not died.

And, when we are caring for someone who is ill or dying, we are caring for that person body and soul, body and spirit.  We are also trying to protect, to save that person.

[__04]  If a gift were to be known to be very precious or fragile, we would be wise to protect it.     A person’s life – and health – is one example.

 [__05]  Another example of a precious and fragile gift is the gift of our:

·         NAME
·         REPUTATION
·         HONOR

Each of us possesses – a name, reputation, honor.

Just as life can be lost , a reputation or record of honor and service can be corrupted or lost.

When we guard someone’s name or reputation, we are also guarding his or her life. We are helping them to reach salvation, to carry out their calling in life.

This is true whether we offer this protection – this guarding of a person’s honor -- in the context of:

·         Family
·         The SUB or the Courts
·         The classroom
·         The locker room
·         The office or meeting

We are guarding his or her life. We are also loving the other as we would want to be loved and protected. Do unto others.

[__06]   For example, you cannot and I cannot do 100% hard drive backup of our reputations.   But another person could “back us up”… if we were not present.

You and I are called to guard the good name and reputation of others by what we do and say.

[__07]   Have we not, at times, stood up for someone’s name and reputation and not been thanked or recognized?

Perhaps, we have even been rejected.

It is risky to save someone’s life.

Our words or our defense might be compared to a basketball full-court press that does not quite hold back the offense.  They still might score on us

[__08]     Lazarus is buried but his soul is immortal. We may encounter, at times, others who are buried, rejected, disgraced.

The Good News is that we can stand up for them.

The Good News for Lazarus and us is that illness does not end in death.

As Jesus tells Martha, “…whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live…” (John 11:25)

Also, as Paul writes to the Romans, in our 2nd reading, “if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10)

When we try to protect the good name of another person, when we try to do the right thing which may be unpopular, our spirit is also alive because of righteousness.

[__09]       God gives us the precious gift of life and the fragile gift of life.

And, also, the gift of honor and a good name.

Both can be interrupted by tragedy, by illness, by the sins of others, by our own faults.

The Good News of Lent – and of repentance and forgiveness and mercy – is that these sorrows, these difficulties are not meant to end in death.  [__fin___]  


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