5th Sunday of Lent-Year A
Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
God Will Solve Your Problems in a Way That Brings Life To Others
About ten years ago, I had to attend a best friend's wedding in a city, which was about three-hour drive from where I lived. I had no money for bus ticket and a gift for the couple so I decided I was going to fast and pray for a week and ask God to let somebody bring me money to buy the bus ticket and the gift I needed. After four days nothing happened. Six days nothing happened. So the night before the wedding I got so angry with God and began to complain and ask: “Where are you God and why are you not listening to my prayers?” On the day of the wedding I told God: “Since you did not solve the problem, I am going to solve it my own way”. So I decided to go and stand by the roadside and beg somebody for a ride. After about an hour I saw a man who pulled aside towards me without me stopping him. He asked where I was going so I told him I needed a ride to the city. He offered to give me a ride. During our conversation, he asked what I was going to do and I told him about the wedding. Guess what. He told me he was attending the same wedding ceremony I was going to and said he would be glad to give me a ride back. I was so ashamed and told him the entire story of how I was angry with God that day. Then he told me maybe I was an answer to his prayers because God had healed him from some sickness and he did not know what to do to thank God so he had prayed that morning that God would bring him somebody who needed help so he could do some charity as a way of thanking God. What really surprised me was that before we got to the place of the wedding he told me he had to stop by a gift shop and buy something for the couple and that I could pick up any gift and he would pay for that. See what God did? He did not answer my prayers the way I wanted because he had a better plan that would reveal his glory not only to me but also to this man who prayed to him.
Beloved in Christ, maybe you don't need a bus ticket or a gift for your friend. But have you ever found yourself in a situation when things got so bad that you asked: “where are you God and why do you allow this to happen?” Perhaps you are going through some situation right now that makes you ask that question. Life can get very tough at times and you can feel abandoned. What do you do when you get to times like that? Our readings today respond to that question. As we get closer to the celebration of the passion of the Lord, the readings remind us of some important facts about life that we need to reflect on:
1. God never abandons us; suffering or chaos in life is not a sign of God’s absence. We need to remember how the world began. The book of Genesis reminds us that the very act of creation was God bringing order, goodness, and beauty out of chaos. That is what God is always up to: bringing good out of evil, hope, when all hope is gone. The first reading tells the story of the people of Israel when they were in exile in Babylon and life was extremely difficult for them. They had become like dry bones without any life. All hope was gone. That was when God gave the prophet Ezekiel a vision about the dry bones and promised that he would bring new life to his people: “I have promised, and I will do it”. What did he promise? To make all things new, to bring good out of evil, to bring order out of chaos through the power of his Spirit.
2. Remember that God’s Spirit lives in you. Our second reading tells us to remember that the Spirit who brings new life dwells in us and if we allow him, he will always bring life no matter how hopeless a situation might seem; even physical death will be turned into life.
3. The gospel teaches us that all sufferings and the chaos in our lives can lead to new life and reveal the glory of God. In the gospel, Jesus hears about the sickness of Lazarus and John tells us that because Jesus loves Lazarus so much, he delayed for two more days until Lazarus died. When you interpret this according to human wisdom, you may go like “really? That does not make sense at all because if you really love somebody that much when you hear that they are dying you don’t intentionally waste more time” So, why did Jesus do that? Because he was going to reveal God’s glory not only to Mary and Martha, but also to all the people in Bethany and to his disciples. The people and the disciples all needed to come to new life. So it was not only Lazarus who was raised to new life. All the disciples, Mary, Martha, and all those who witnessed this miracle were raised to a new life of faith in God. They saw how much God cares about them and that God will not abandon them.
Beloved in Christ, this mystery of God bringing new life is what we celebrate today in the Eucharist and will celebrate in a very special way at Easter. However, we are not celebrating these mysteries just to remember what God did centuries ago, but also to experience that same mystery in our own lives today. We do not only celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus, we are called to also become the bread that is broken for others by allowing God to solve our problems in a way that brings life not only to us but also to others. So beloved in Christ, I don’t know what troubles you have in your life right now. I don’t know the chaos in your life. I don’t know what brings tears into your eye. I don’t know your disappointments and how you think God is delaying. But I know one thing: God has not abandoned you. He will keep his promises to you but he will do it in a way that will bring life not only to you, but also to many more. Are you ready to be the bread that is broken for others? Are you ready to allow God to use your sufferings not only to bring you new life, but also to bring that new life to many more? Then hold on! Don’t give up!