Fifth Sunday of Lent – Come out of the Tomb

If you have ever had to plan a funeral for someone, the first thing that you usually do is select a funeral home and pay a visit there so all of the specifics can be hammered out.  Things like the date and time for the wake service and funeral need to be selected and then of course that involves calling the church to make sure that it is available for the date/time you would like.  A cemetery plot might be discussed if one has not already been purchased and then you will be brought into the showroom to select that perfect “eternal bed” for you (if you are planning your own funeral) or for your loved one.  I remember the very first time I was in the showroom looking at caskets all over the walls.  Needless to say, I was left with an odd feeling in my gut.  Of course, this is just a part of life.  It is an unfortunate part of life but this Fifth Sunday of Lent we are reminded that earthly death is not what God desires for us.  That is evident from the First Reading that we hear from the Prophet Ezekiel and of course when Jesus raises Lazarus.  Let’s focus our attention on the first reading.  The People of Israel had lost their hope that God was with them.  God uses Ezekiel to reassure them that that is not the case.  The reading is short enough to reprint here.  “Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.”  (Ez 37:12-14)  The grave is not the last word in the last sentence of life; communion with God is.  It is oftentimes easier to allow death to swallow up our hope but we mustn’t allow that hope to be taken from us.  During our Lenten journey, we are invited to deepen our embrace of the paschal mystery by which we live as a people not bound by the grave.  May we hasten to greet the Resurrected Christ destroys death by his victory over the grave.

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