Perhaps you are starting to feel a little like Lazarus. With all of these social distancing requirements the walls of our home can seem to be closing in on us and we can easily feel like we have been locked away in a tomb. Just as death bound Lazarus, the coronavirus can lead us to be tied up by fear and hopelessness. If we are feeling a little like Lazarus, today’s Gospel should be the good news that we need. For just as Jesus came, unbound, and raised Lazarus up, He comes to us today in the midst of this pandemic to set us free.
Yes, the news the past couple of weeks has reminded us that we can’t avoid suffering and death, but today Jesus breaks through all that noise to remind us that as long as we have faith, we have hope. Just as Jesus intervened with Lazarus and ordered the stone to his grave to be rolled away, Jesus also intervenes in our lives and orders the doorway to our hearts to be opened. If the stench of death coming from Lazarus’ tomb didn’t cause Jesus to walk away, we can be confident that the stench of the coronavirus or even the stench of our own sins won’t prevent Jesus from entering our hearts.
We know that with every challenge God provides an opportunity. The coronavirus has pulled us out of our routine and made us think about how we use our time. With sports, travel, and even normal socializing cancelled, we are forced to find new ways to spend our time. Maybe with so many things cancelled in our lives we can once again find a healthy balance between, God, family, and those other things that keep us busy. Just perhaps one of the silver innings to all of this social distancing is that it will give us a chance to hit the reset button and once again find those things that are most important. Have you considered that these days of social distancing present us with an opportunity to realize how many passing things we go to for comfort and distraction when we should be going to God? Since oftentimes the penances and sacrifices we don’t choose are the best for our souls, if we use this opportunity wisely, this forced social distancing can be a great blessing for us, if we allow it to jar us from our usual distractions, freeing up time for prayer and reflection.
Next week, with our celebration of Palm Sunday, we begin the journey of Holy Week. As we navigate through Holy Week, we are invited to bring all of those things that bind us and nail them to the cross so that witnessing the empty tomb on Easter we will experience the truth that Jesus came to unbind us and raise us up.
So, as you look back on the past two weeks of social distancing what are those things that you now realize have been keeping you bound up? What are those sins, fears, anxieties, and distractions you need to offer to Jesus this Holy Week? For no matter how, many setbacks we face in life, Easter reminds us that if we have Jesus in our lives, there is ultimately no defeat.
My friends, the holiest days of the year are upon us. This week is the chance to prepare ourselves to celebrate Holy Week, but to do that we need to put aside the distractions of the coronavirus, to roll back the stone to our hearts and allow Jesus into our fears and insecurities so that we may rise with Him to freedom on Easter Sunday. Friends if we want to see Jesus, we will run to the cross, where Jesus takes all of our sufferings and uses them as opportunities to participate, with His saving grace, in our salvation.
Since there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, it is only because we suffer that we can hold out hope for eternal life. It was Christ’s suffering that lead to His resurrection. Why should it be any different for us? We didn’t choose this coronavirus pandemic, but we do choose how to respond to it. Will you use it as an opportunity to reset your priorities, to free yourself up to journey with Jesus to the Cross so that you can rise with Him to eternal life or will this just be another chapter in the history books, a moment you endured but did not allow to change you for the better? I’ve heard some people say that not being able to go to Mass has made this the worst lent ever. While I understand that sentiment, if this social distancing gives us the chance to hit the reset button, to once again prioritize God in our lives, then it will truly be the best Lent ever.