Homily on 5th Sunday of Lent, Year A, 2020

In recent weeks nearly the whole world has become occupied, with increasing intensity, with the corona virus. We see a great deal of solidarity, willingness to sacrifice, readiness to change. Great force are unleashed, because here one of the deepest human drives is implicated, the survival instinct. Like other animals, we have a fundamental drive to survive.

At the same time, we know that we at some point will die. How does this knowledge affect us? Our life can be an attempt to extend the short span of life as long as possible. Some wealthy persons invest a great deal in research, from which they hope for breakthroughs in extending human life. Some persons avoid everything wherein they see every the slightest risk: fear of dying turns into fear of living. Others attempt to supress death by simply ignoring and not thinking about it.

Our life can be an attempt, to get as much as possible from life: to work, to do and accomplish many things, to experience and enjoy many things, or simply to experience as consciously as possible everything going on in our life.

The thought that has become much more present with the current crisis, that I myself or someone close to me could be seriously or even fatally struck, can cause fear, or it can strengthen the desire and resolution to live each day as well as we can: "live every day (and every week, and every month), as though it were your last," as many saints have encouraged for the past millennia.

Death is a tremendous reality. Jesus knows well the purpose in Lazarus's death, indeed he "is glad" that he was not there to prevent his death. Yet he also, with Maria of Bethany, wept over the death of Lazarus, one of only two times recorded in the Gospel that Jesus wept. Jesus knows the depth of the darkness of death.

And Jesus gives us hope. His words to Martha are spoken and written for us as well: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

The worldwide developments can challenge faith, if Martha's observation, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died," becomes, today: "If God exists, all of this would not be happening." But all who, with Martha, confess, "Yes, Lord; I believe, that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world", find comfort in Christ's solidarity with those dying in sorrow, find hope and confidence in the surety of the victory of life over death.

Towards the end of Lent the Church reminds us yearly of the reality of death from the perspective of the hope that Christ's life, death and resurrection gives us. For the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead will give life, meaning and hope to our mortal life and our concern for physical and spiritual life of our brothers and sisters, the beginning of eternal life in us.

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