In this video, Bishop John Sherrington reflects on Jesus' journey through the desert and the raising of Lazarus.
On the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we are gathering at home. Our churches are locked. We are isolating ourselves because of the coronavirus pandemic. We are gathering together as families or alone. We are longing to be at Mass with others, yearning to be in the church, wanting to see the consoling light of the Tabernacle lamp, telling us that Jesus is present in his Body and Blood.
We want to be assembled with our communities again to celebrate the Mass; and yet we find ourselves thrust out, thrown out into the desert. Jesus went into the desert for forty days and forty nights to be tempted by the devil and to be ministered to by the angels. We've been sent out into the desert because of this virus. The desert is a harsh place, a place of isolation. It's a place of cold nights, biting winds and very hot days. And, in that, Jesus was tempted, but discovered in a new way the love of the Father and the grace of God in the ministering of the angels. We too rely on Jesus who comes to us and says, 'do not be afraid'.
On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we have heard in today's Gospel the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus comes to Bethany, to the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus, whom he knew so well: a family where he was at home. Lazarus has died, but Jesus hasn't rushed there, so that the works of God can be shown through him and the Father can be glorified.
It is here, in the midst of the grief and the tears of Martha and Mary, that Jesus makes this wonderful proclamation of who he is. He says to Martha, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies, he will live. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'
We are invited again to deepen our faith in Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is a sign that points us towards the joy of Easter and Jesus' resurrection from the dead, the promise of new life, eternal life in him.
When he raises Lazarus from the dead, we hear those powerful words cried out in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, here, come out. Unbind him, let him go free.'
In our prayer, we bring to Jesus, who presents to the Father, our offering: our prayers for those who are bound in one way or another, for those who need again to receive the gift of freedom, for the sick, for those who are looking after them and caring for them, for our NHS workers, and all those seeking to find a vaccine. We pray for all those grieving, like Martha and Mary.
In this celebration on Sunday, in this Gospel, we renew our hope in Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, who helps us to walk towards Easter, through the desert, and know the joy of his being raised from the dead, and our new life as adopted children of the Father.
May Our Blessed Lady intercede for us.
May God bless you.