March 22, 2015 5th Sunday in Lent
Reading I Ezekiel 37:12-14
Reading II Romans 8:8-11
Gospel John 11:1-45
Jesus’s humanity inspires us. Jesus’s divinity empowers us. And Jesus gives us new life and he gives us hope.
In the summer of 1984 at the Olympics in Los Angeles, Jack Blackney and Thomas Johansen — Johansen was from Sweden and Blackney was from the United States — and they were in the finals for the gold metal for wrestling. At the end of the wrestling match the United States won. Blackney was the winner. But the minute he won he did not jump up and down and raise his hand and bow to everyone. Instead he went to knees, made the sign of the cross, wept and got up. It was caught on tape, his weeping, his crying — and the country all of a sudden took him for a hero.
Not for a hero because he won the gold, unbeknownst that he had had cancer and had undergone surgery and was able to be in the Olympics, but because of his humanity and because of the fact that he showed his emotions and that he said to the world, “I can be that, too. I can do that as well.”
In the Gospel today we see both Christ’s humanity as well as his divinity. We know that Jesus is one hundred percent human, and is one hundred percent divine. We don’t know exactly how that can be but we know it is a fact. And sometimes we don’t think of Jesus as being human, but yet he hungered in the desert, he thirst on the cross, he, at the end, was depressed in the garden and asked his Father to “let this cup pass from me.” He was weary on the road to Samaria that we heard about two weeks ago. And today in the Gospel we see him weeping. We see him showing the emotion of love, compassion and concern.
He is a God who truly loves us.
It is important that we realize that Jesus was truly human because God sent him into the world to be one of us, not only to die on the cross to save us, but to also show us how to live. He had all the pains and the agonies that all of us have, and he showed us how to live.
Jesus is also one hundred percent divine. We know he is divine because of all the things that he did. In our reading today, there he is receiving word from Mary and Martha that Lazarus is sick. We might wonder why he waited two days. If he really loved him why did he wait. And he answered the question, “That the glory of God can be shown.” And it was when Lazarus was raised from the dead. When he went in and approached the town Martha came to him and asked, “Why didn’t you come earlier? You could have saved him.” And Jesus says,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
The question to us this morning is: Do we believe? Do we believe he is the resurrection and the life? Do we believe that he can make a difference in our world? Do we believe that through our baptism we have the spirit within in and we can have truly life?
You know, sometimes it is easy for us to see the Kingdom of God as after we die. The fullness of it is after we die. But the Kingdom of God is present within us today if we believe. We have the spirit within us from our baptism. But the question is — do we allow that spirit to work within us to give us new life? Do we allow that spirit to make a difference in our world? Do we use that spirit to give hope not only to ourselves, but also to each other?
Sometimes it is very easy to sit back and think: Yes, I believe in God, but if we really believe in God we make him the center of who we are. We make him a part of who we are. We have him with us when we make decisions and when we don’t.
The Gospel writer John doesn’t use the word miracle, he uses the word sign. Does Jesus give us signs? Does he give us signs every day? But do we see them, and do we appreciate them, and do we realize that sometimes we too are a sign to others?
One of the things we are being asked today is to look at the world as we always do but to look at it through a different lens — to look at it through the lens of Jesus, and through the lens of the spirit. If so, then we truly do have full life, and we truly do have hope.
I want to read you a story and it is about a child. But I want us to remember, in this story — we are this child — so internalize it to ourselves.
“The child whispered, ‘God, speak to me’
And a meadow lark sang.
But the child did not hear.
"So the child yelled, ‘God, speak to me!’
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the child did not listen.
“The child looked around and said,
‘God let me see you’ and a star shone brightly
But the child did not notice.
“And the child shouted,
‘God show me a miracle!’
And a life was born but the child did not know.
“So the child cried out in despair,
‘Touch me God, and let me know you are here!’
Whereupon God reached down
And touched the child.
“But the child brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowingly.”
Do we hear the meadowlark? Do we hear the thunder? Do we see the stars? Do we see life? Do we see one another?
We are asked this morning, “Do we believe?” And how much faith do we really have so that we can put the troubles and sorrows in our life and give them to God. We have the spirit in us. He is there to make our life full, but only if we are willing to take his hand, only if we are willing to listen, to look, and to touch.
Yes, Jesus’s humanity does inspire us because he was one of us and he lived our life. And yes, his divinity does empower us — if we allow him to empower. And yes, Jesus gives us a full life, a new life, and hope, if we want it.
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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.