Fifth Sunday of Lent: Come Out of that Tomb!

Come Out of that Tomb!

Apr 02, 2017

5th Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14
Romans 8:8-11
Gospel: John 11:1-45

As I was preparing this homily, I was thinking of Lazarus in the tomb and, somehow my mind started considering man caves, you know, that place where the man can have his own space. Then the question came to me, “If men have man caves, what do women have?” So I went to that source of all useless knowledge, Google, and asked the question: If a man has a man cave, then what does a woman have? Among other answers I got:

1) She has the rest of the house, including all the closets.
2) She has the shopping mall. And, my favourite
3) She has a neanderthal.

Actually, contrary to what most people think, women are always welcome into the man cave, as long as they bring cold beer and pizza.

Well, Lazarus wasn’t really in a man cave. There was nothing comforting about the place they put him in after he died. It was a tomb. But then his consciousness returned. And he heard a voice. It was the voice of Jesus calling him out of the tomb. And Lazarus left the tomb.

Come out of the tomb, Lazarus. You don’t belong among the dead. The Lord of Life is present. Come out of the tomb all you Lazaruses, or is it Lazori? We don’t belong locked up with the dead. We are in the Spirit, as St Paul tells the Romans in today’s second reading. Our sinful actions can kill us. Our bodies can be destroyed by sin, but our spirit, our sharing in His Spirit, gives us life, His Life.

“So come out of the tomb and return to life,” the Lord demands. He calls, “Come out of those tombs that you have put yourselves into.”

What are those self inflicted places of isolation? What are our tombs? Perhaps the tomb is a man cave where there are immoral things viewed on a screen. Maybe the tomb is a woman cave of self-pity. Maybe we are in a cave of self-doubt, a cave where we question our right to be among people who seem to be so much better than us: better wives, better husbands, better priests, better teens, better Catholics, just all around better people. Maybe we are in a cave where we delight in suffering from wrongs done to us in the past, caves where we refuse to forgive. A great line a missionary once shared with us is: Holding grudges is taking poison and hoping that someone else will get sick.

Whatever our caves may be, we don’t need to be rotting there. “Come out!” Jesus calls. Come out and come into life. Jesus is more powerful than anything holding us back, including our sins. He is more powerful than the forces around us, and within us, that are trying to destroy us.

When Lazarus was called from the tomb, Jesus said to Martha and Mary and those others present, “Untie him.” Unbind him. When someone is called from the tomb, the Lord says to us, “Unbind him. Unbind her.” Just as we have been freed from the bonds of sin by the Life of the Lord, we have to go to the cemeteries of the world, and unbind those suffering from the terrors inflicted on them by an immoral society. We have to call them away from their sins, their weaknesses, their anger, their addictions, their hatred, and their self-loathing. We have to call, “Come out of your tombs and come into life.” And then, we have to care for them, re-affirm them, let them know that God’s mercy is infinitely greater than our sins. We have to tell them, “You don’t belong in the darkness, you belong out here in the light. You don’t belong among the dead. You belong among the living.” We have to untie them so they also can be free to live.

Life is Worth Living. Venerable Bishop Fulton J Sheen, entitled his Emmy winning TV show Life is Worth Living when it is lived united to the Lord. Life is full of beauty, full of joy, when it is united to Jesus Christ. So, “Come out of the tombs,” Jesus says to the world and to us. “Come out of the tomb and come into my life. Come into my Joy.” -- By Msgr Joseph A. Pellegrino

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