It seems wrong to think about death in the springtime. And yet we all know, death is ever-present and never discriminates about whom, when, or where. Death scares us. In fact, death is the ultimate of all fears. All fears are minor expressions of death.
Almost always, death means pain, suffering, and grief, especially when death is sudden and arrives for the young and beloved. In fact, the proportion of suffering seems in direct relationship to those two realities. There is no one who is exempt from the experience of death, although some of us have more experience with death than others.
Death impels us to look and think outside of ourselves and, for many, this means to seek understanding and answers, consolation and comfort in our God. Our tradition has taught us from the earliest of times that God’s plan is that every person has a destiny in eternity, a place beyond this life that never ends. In the English language, we call that place Heaven.
In 2010 Todd Burpo published a small book called: Heaven is for Real: a Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. The book describing the near death experience of three year old Colton was on The New York Times bestseller list for a number of years. I read the book several years ago and there is good reason it continues to be a very popular read across America. The story contains details that all of us long to know and stretch to imagine. The innocence and beauty of the child’s descriptions of angels and music, knowledge of a range of issues beyond a child’s ability to have known, and his encounter with Jesus, challenge our beliefs. Yet we all want to know more, and many of us are
so deeply attracted to angels!
I believe our Creator God has “wired” us for Heaven. The restlessness of the human heart that lures all of us into relentless seeking for satisfaction and completion is never at peace until it rests in authentic love. And Love is God. Our destiny is not in this life, rather beyond it and yet the entrance to our destiny is our death. Wow! What a peculiar set of circumstances each of us has to find a way to accept and live into. Often the elderly have taught me to clear away all the stuff that might have been important, and long for what really matters. Over and again I have heard, “I am ready – I want to go home,” from folks who have lived through illness and aging.
The optional Gospel for this fifth Sunday of Lent tells the dramatic story of the death of Lazarus and the appeal of his sisters, Martha and Mary to Jesus. It depicts the sadness and the pain of loss Jesus and the family and friends of Lazarus are experiencing. And the story conveys Jesus’ action of raising Lazarus from death to live again. To me it is almost like this story gives a glimpse of what God wants for every one of us: to move through the reality and suffering, to find a path in life of faith and love and, in this sweet experience of living, prepare to die so that we may live completely and always.
The upcoming celebration of Holy Week and Easter brings into the sharpest focus the relationship among living, suffering, and dying with a future hope of resurrection. Jesus has shown the way, and at the very center of this way is Love. For it is in love that one dies to self and through love that one arrives at fullness of life now and in eternity.
Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 2/3, 2022
Strong words come from Saint Paul in today’s second reading. He reveals in no uncertain terms that life in Christ is our goal.
Everything else, he maintains, is “rubbish.” Junk. Trash. Garbage.
Is that true? Is everything else “rubbish” compared to deepening our relationship with the Lord?
What about putting recreational activities ahead of attending Mass?
Or preferring uninterrupted hours playing the latest video games or watching TV to spending time in a bible study group, choir practice or serving in a soup kitchen?
Or keeping late hours at work over sharing the gospel with friends and neighbors?
To what extent do we exercise stewardship over our relationship with Christ?
Scaffolding continues to be erected to repair damage to the flashing on the tower that occurred during high winds last year.
Repairs are expected to be completed by Easter.
Next Sunday, April 10th. is Palm Sunday
Masses are as follows:
Saturday 4pm – Palm Sunday Vigil
Sunday 8am, 10:30am (Livestreamed)and 6:pm