Tag Archives: Fifth Sunday of Lent

Fifth Sunday of Lent

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Fifth Sunday of Lent: CLICK HERE! 

As I watched the special blessing of Pope Francis on Friday afternoon to the City of Rome and the World, in light of Pandemic that has gripped our world, it was obvious that it was raining in Rome.  (Just as it is raining now, here in the Capital District)

And when I read that famous quote from today’s Gospel, “Jesus wept” I could but think that maybe the rain in Rome was our God’s way of reminding us that he “weeps” with us and worries with us and walks with us in this unprecedented time in history… When a virus can seemingly change the way we live in a heartbeat.  A virus that brings: illness, separation, isolation, questions, concern, anxiety, health concerns and even death to some.

Jesus is with us, Jesus cares for us; just as he cared for his friend Lazarus.

The bottom line to the Gospel today is Jesus brings us hope in good days, in joyful days; in days of sorrow and challenge…

DO YOU BELIEVE?

And like Mary and Martha we too say, “Yes, Lord we believe.”  But still we wonder where is Jesus today?  When will Jesus show up?  Maybe, if we look beyond our selves we might see Jesus in our midst.

I love the post I saw this week on Facebook of a family of 9 that placed a piece of paper on the wall with a caption that said: GRATITUDE LIST (4 things were written at the time) Music…  The Internet…  Sough Dough…  and in BIG LETTERS:     DOGS.

What would you add to the list?

You know, many people might be staying at home and becoming a bit stir crazy, or maybe feel like you are under house arrest.  But with every challenge comes opportunity. The opportunity to bring hope to another or others, just as Jesus did.

I truly think that one of the messages, and truly there are many messages, that is coming from the present crisis is, our need to be more concerned about others… it ain’t all Me but others too.

Steve Hartman, a broadcast journalist from CBS is at home with his children.  He recently offered a session online for children called “Kindness 101”.  One thing he talked about was heroism and how heroes today are wearing different kinds of uniforms. So their assignment for the week was to pick one of these new heroes and thank them in any way they could.

Some kids went straight to the phone to thank the pharmacist or the fire chief and nurses. Others used sidewalks to thank mail carriers, FedEx and UPS drivers.  But one kid, Tyler, age 9, decided to give his note to a truck driver, so he taped the note to the loading dock.  The note read in part, “I appreciate that you are still going out and driving your truck because all of us are sitting on our butts watching TV and eating cheetos”.

Who are our heroes for whom are we grateful and thankful?  How might we take this gift of extra time we have to thank a hero, who often looks like you…

Just maybe heroes we call

  • Health care workers at all levels
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • First Responders
  • Grocery Store Personnel
  • Truckers
  • Mail and Banking Personnel
  • All those Essential People… (oh, and how can I forget the most essential of them all, Liquor Stores – kidding to a degree)

Like Jesus (and all those people) who come into our lives daily with hope and healing and so much more, when it is sunny and when it is rainy. May we do the same. Plan on doing something today!

As one quote I came across recently reminds us, “think outside the box; you’ll have eternity to think inside the box.”

Finally, in the new routines that we are taking on at present, take time for:

  • Family
  • Meals together
  • Talking with one another
  • For your school work or job
  • Reaching out to others
  • Fun
  • Relaxing
  • GOD and prayer

Fifth Sunday of Lent

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Fifth Sunday of Lent: CLICK HERE!

“Sir, we would like to see Jesus,” says some Greeks to Philip in our Gospel Today.

The story is told of a blind man selling his wares in the middle of a busy train station, when a group of children bump into the table and knock much of his nicely stacked merchandise to the floor.  As the story goes, the merchant gets down on hands and knees in an attempt to retrieve his scattered goods.  Another man, clearly in hurry, rounds the corner to see the sight-impaired merchant on the floor.

The man stops for a moment, looks at his watch, his expression indicating his dilemma: if he takes the time to help this man, he will likely miss his train.  With only a moments hesitation, he drops his briefcase, gets down on the floor, and helps the merchant gather and re-stack his goods.  When all is in order, and the man walks away, the merchant calls out after him, “Hey Mister, are you Jesus?”

Now chances are this story is not actually true.  But true or not, the story could be a modern day Parable.

“Sir, we would like to see Jesus,” says some Greeks to Philip in our Gospel Today.

What was it that made the man help the merchant?  Could be many reasons… Could be the grace of God within him (and us); the grace of God as we heard in the Jeremiah reading, “I will place my law within them – (you & me) – and write it upon their hearts.”

I would guess there are many opportunities to be Jesus to others, at home, at work, at school, at church, in the everyday world in which we find ourselves.  Opportunities to “make God decisions” at the present moment.

Present moment awareness might well be what the man in the story responded to.  Present moment awareness is asking God what we should do in this situation, this moment before us.

We can all manage a moment, if we wish, to be helpful, to be present to another, to listen, to seize the moments before us to share goodness, Godliness, this day, this week and beyond.

We all yearn to see Jesus.  And people yearn to see Jesus in us whether verbalized or not, many people call out to us, “Madam, Sir… We would like to see Jesus!”

Fifth Sunday of Lent

  • The Date:    February 22, 1980
  • The Place:     Lake Placid, NY
  • The Event:  The Winter Olympics
  • The Sport:      Men’s Ice Hockey
  • The Teams:   USA  vs  Soviet Union
  • The Enduring Quote that came from Broadcaster:  Al Michaels, as the Crowd counted down the last 10 Seconds of the most improbable 4-3 Victory by the USA — “Do you believe in Miracles?”

And for those who may not know, the USA Team was just a group of young amateurs and the Soviet Union Team was a seasoned group of hockey players who previously beat the best of the National Hockey League.

And just maybe, the victory of the Mississippi State Women’s Basketball Team in the NCAA Final Four early Saturday morning (April 1, 2017) over the U-Conn women – winners of 111 consecutive games, (and a team they beat by 60 points in last year’s NCCA Tournament), had some also asking: “Do you believe in Miracles?”

Well, the Gospel today has Jesus asking us “do we believe,” specifically, in this case: do you believe in the Resurrection to Eternal Life?

But to make the point, He raised his friend Lazarus from the tomb.

Of course there are many levels to the Bible readings we read and hear and reflect upon today and every Sunday when we gather as “God’s People of Growing Faith.”

The raising of Lazarus from meant to lead us to examine our own Faith as Disciples!

Today’s Scriptures are meant to  have us reflect upon how our FAITH is GROWING – hopefully not fading.  How our faith is out there for all to see, and hopefully not putting our faith under a bushel basket (hiding it).

Today’s Gospel is not meant to reinforce a PASSIVE FAITH.  It is very easy to say, “yes, I believe.”  Today’s Gospel is meant to bring us to living our FAITH in active, concrete and meaningful ways, for a life time.

A faith that beckons us to walk in the ways of Jesus, more faithfully this day and every day…

A faith that is meant to support us in times of challenge and darkness, as well as times of easy and comfort and light.

A faith that is meant to touch our lives and the lives of others with hope, light, mercy, love, life and so much more.

A faith that is meant to be nurtured, fed and supported.  Which is one of the reasons we gather here for Mass weekly.

A faith that is meant to grow and improve over time, to get better with age.  Just like a fine wine.

Do you believe – Do we believe?  Of course we do…

May our families, our children, our friends, our classmates, our co-workers, our “fellow parishioners,” the people we interact with daily… see in us a faith in God, in all that is of God — in the lives we live every day.

Lives that also invite others to walk in the light, to walk in the ways of Jesus, as Faithful Disciples.

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings:     Isaiah 43:16-21;     Philippians 3:8-14;     John 8:1-11


For us, here in the United States, the violence of stoning is unknown to us; but believe it or not, stoning is still legal in about 15 Countries.  Suffice it to say, stoning is most horrendous.  We might even say, “How can one human being do that to another?”

Some two thousand years ago, in the time of Jesus, a woman was about to be stoned. Here enters Jesus.  He knows the law but he also understood its intent and what was behind it: a loving and caring God.

But here is Jesus “doing something new,” as we heard in the Isaiah reading.

As the story of the woman caught in adultery unfolds, Jesus challenges the people gathered to take an inventory of themselves, not of other people.  For some, that was a new thought – not passing judgement on others and instead making an honest judgment of your own life.  Pretty difficult – is it not?

Truth is, we are all sinners.  We all hope and pray for God’s understanding and forgiveness, not just once, but again and again and again.  (Isn’t that what the Sacrament of Confession, Penance, Reconciliation is all about?)

That is what Jesus does today.  Forgives the woman… exhorts her to sin no more.

Today’s Gospel reminds us of God’s mercy, forgiveness and love that is without limit. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we, too, are meant to live and to share God’s mercy, forgiveness and love without limits each day.

During this Year of Mercy, I hope that we come to know more and more God’s great love, mercy and forgiveness, but also share the same with others.

How can we do that?     As Pope Francis has recently shared:

  • End family feuds
  • Forgive others
  • Let bygones be bygones
  • Leave bad things behind you
  • See the good in others
  • Foster unity among people
  • Speak well of others
  • Give a helping hand

God’s love and mercy and care… know no boundaries.

What is asked of us is opening our hearts to Christ and following his lead to opening our hearts to others.

 

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Scriptures:     Jeremiah 31:31-34;      Hebrews 5:7-9;     John 12:20-33


I would guess we struggle a bit when we hear around suffering, about death, especially today, since our society does not want us to think about or entertain thoughts about pain, suffering or death.

You may have heard the comments of Pope Francis, on possible threats to his safety, “I told the Lord, ‘You take care of me.   But if Your will is that I die or that they do something to me, I ask a favor:  that is does not hurt, because I am a big wimp when it comes to physical pain.'”

We may wish that every moment would be as the singer Pharrell Williams sings, “Happy.” (from the movie:  “Despicable Me 2”)

Even the United Nations celebrated the International Day of Happiness on March 20 throughout the world.       (Hope you did not miss it)

Obviously, we know that there is pain and suffering and death in our world, maybe among us, maybe personally.   Pain, suffering, death… are real.

But as Disciples of Jesus Christ, we also know that pain, suffering, even death can change us; even bring us “Life.”

“Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but it if dies, it produces much fruit.”

Where in our lives is our God asking us to die?  Put another way, where is God asking us change our ways, to change our attitudes… to change?

Bishop Scharfenberger, in his weekly column in the Evangelist shared with the people of the Diocese of Albany that, “entire parish communities are engaged in the process of making difficult decisions about the best use of their resources – which, in some cases, may mean significant changes in the internal and external structuring of their Faith Communities.”

We know from past experiences this is difficult.  There is a dying that goes on when a Parish closes or consolidates.  Yet do we believe, at least somewhere deep down in our being, that “New Life” will come out of difficult decisions or difficult times?

I would guess many say sure, no problem to making difficult decisions.  But when it happens in my parish, what’s our response?  How will we give comfort to others and together more forward, and give and bring New Life to the Community of Faith that is “evolving.”  Something to certainly think about.

One author has shared that, no matter our suffering, our pain… as real as it is:   “Jesus absorbed terrible pain in his passion, but did not pass it on.”  The author suggests, “we imitate Jesus, especially in our suffering, and not pass on our pain by ‘making other people miserable.’”

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:11-45


 

I would guess the concept, the belief of our faith that – Jesus is Truly God and Truly Man, that Jesus is Truly Divine and Human – might bring about some questions… I would suggest that our Gospel today may help us see both sides of Jesus – The Divine and The Human.

In today’s Gospel we see the human side of Jesus as “Jesus Weeps” over the death of his friend, Lazarus. And we also see the divine side of Jesus as Jesus “Raises” Lazarus from the dead.

What message might we glean from these two examples?

First, just as Jesus loved Lazarus, so Jesus loves us!

And to quote the word’s of Jesus to Martha today, “Do you believe this?”

Hopefully we can respond as Martha did, “Yes, Lord, I do believe.”

Yet, at times we may struggle with this concept, especially, when we remember the times we have failed to meet the mark and have sinned, even grievously. Yet, our God still loves us. Hard to believe, but God loves us! Our God waits for us to come home, to turn back to the good, to turn back to God, and not only believe in God’s love, but grow in God’s love, each and every day.

The second message today is: Just as Jesus raised Lazarus, one day we will rise to live forever in glory with the Lord.

Again to quote Jesus to Martha, “Do you believe this?”

We have all experience the death of a loved one, and today’s Gospel reminds us that the love of God, the power of God, is greater than anything, including death.

The love of God is so simple that it may be difficult to explain, to appreciate. But day after day, the love of God is showered upon us as person, family and parish community.

“Do you believe this?”

And as we know, our words of belief are reflected in our lives of lived faith daily:

  • As we reach out in words and actions of love and forgiveness of others.
  • As we reach out to others by being present to others, especially in times of need.
  • As we raise up another person with words of encouragement, comfort and support.

And I am sure each of us can add an example or two of how we can reach out to another or others in love and raise up others in daily life.

One scripture writer notes that the word “Lazarus” means “God helps”…
And don’t we all need – “God’s help?”
And don’t we all need to remind other of “God’s help?”

This weekend, as we hear God’s word of life and love and share in the sacrament of life and love, the Eucharist… May we not only know of God’s unconditional love and eternal presence in our lives but may we continue to grow deeper in God’s unconditional love and eternal presence in our lives.