St Francis of Assisi Parish
Mar 292020

Reflecting on the Gospel for the 5th Sunday in Lent

Fr Thanh Tran

To die is to end a life on earth. It is so tragic and heartrending for us to have someone who is dear to us, pass away. All the parting moments are so sad and harrowing. Those who have lost their fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers or other loved ones can understand this kind of feeling. This sorrowful feeling is connected to our Gospel reading this weekend. Martha and Mary have lost their beloved brother, Lazarus. The same as other people who have lost their loved ones, Martha and Mary were very sorrowful. They were heartbroken. Nevertheless, their faith in God helped them to believe and to trust in Jesus, even at one of the most painful moments in their lives. Martha said to Jesus: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.” Mary and Martha’s faith in God allowed Jesus to open the tomb and to raise Lazarus from the dead.  People often say: “there is death if there is birth.” Nobody can avoid death and sickness. However, when facing diseases and death, we, humans may fall into a state of fear, disappointment, depression and despair. One of the things that I do most as a priest is visiting those who are sick and those who are dying. It is always sad and emotional to see these people suffering and passing away. Among those who are dying, some people are depressed, scared, worried and anxious. Yet, there are others who feel ready and peaceful. Perhaps, they are ready to go because they feel secure about their loved ones who stay back on earth. Maybe, they feel peaceful because their faith allows them to believe that their death is not the end but it is a beginning, it is a beginning of a new life in heaven.  In our world today, many people may not believe in afterlife. Perhaps, if thinking that death is the end and nothing comes after death, humans will always live in fear. When people think that they will die and go into nothingness, they have already brought nothingness into their lives. Possibly, there is not much joy and hope in the lives of those who don’t believe in God and afterlife, especially when facing hardships, challenges, sickness and death. Why do we need to live if we know that tomorrow we will die and go into nothingness? Human beings have an insatiable will to live. Like Mary and Martha, we may also wonder why do we have to die? Why isn’t life happier, longer, more secure, more fulfilled? At times in life, we may ask ourselves what’s going to happen when we die and what can we do in the face of death? If we know to think about death and about afterlife, we will strive to live our lives more beautifully and meaningfully. Each of us can be controlled by different things in this world. Lent is a journey for us to come back to the Lord, to be unbound and to be freed from the tomb, from the hardships and from the temptations we are facing. The scariest thing in our lives is not knowing the way and the direction to where we are going to.
Jesus has told us the way and the direction to live our lives on earth and to receive life eternal. In the Gospel, he said to Martha and today, he is telling each of us: “If anyone believes in me, even though they die they will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” It is crucial for us to have our faith in God and our trust in him. Saint Paul said that our homeland is in heaven. Yes, each of us has a home in heaven and this earth is only a temporary boarding home for us. Each Sunday, in the creed, we say: “And I look forward the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”
Things seem to be in the air with what’s happening around the world at the moment. We don’t really know what’s going to happen next. It is so uncertain and frightening. However, with our faith in the Lord, we know that we are loved by God and by others. As we are loved, so we love; as we are cared for by others, so we learn to care for them; as we are prayed for by others, so we are to pray for people around us. With our trust and hope in God, we turn to Christ, the Healer of all types of sickness and disease, praying for those who suffer from the Coronavirus in New Zealand and across the world. We pray for those who reach out to the people who mourn the loss of their loved ones. We also pray for both political and religious leaders with the policies they make to lead other people and to help them during this challenging time. We think of and pray for all the healthcare professionals and researchers who are working hard to look after others and to save their lives. We also pray for ourselves that we may not be distressed and lose heart, but may know to trust in God even much more, as Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, who cares for us tenderly and loves us boundlessly.
 29/03/2020  Categories: Editorial Tagged with: