Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

The Raising of Lazarus 3-26-2003

Saturday, March 25th, 2023

Let’s allow our imaginations to create a Hollywood version of the raising
of Lazarus.
Picture it: Lazarus comes out of his tomb-bound up, mummy-
like, wrapped tightly in burial garments.
See those tight wrappings around his body? Even as he comes
forth to Jesus, they restrict his sight, speech and freedom of
Listen carefully to the words of Jesus. “Untie him and let him
go free.”
I believe Lazarus coming out of the tomb represents every person!
What is it in our lives that binds us up? At times ties us up,
immobilizes us, limits our perception, and gets in the way of us
reaching out to others and to God?
Is it an attitude or possibly our own fears that restrict us? Maybe it
is a prejudice toward a particular group of people? Perhaps it is
something that worries us? Something we did in the past that we
are ashamed of? Could it be financial problems or a medical
concern? Is it a broken relationship in our family, a habit of lying,
trying to cover our tracks? Are we being squeezed to death by
bitterness, resentment, anger, grief, guilt or a poor self image?
Remember these words. “Untie him and her and let them go
As we reflect on what has us all wrapped up. What is preventing us from
moving freely and experiencing real life?
I think it is important to also ask ourselves: Are there situations or
relationships going on right now, where we are binding or tying up
other people? How would we do this?
Does our sour, negative attitudes and biting criticism destroy the
spirit of those around us? Are we quick to see the bad, and blind to
the good and positive in the people close to us?
How about back stabbing rumors, parking lot gossip and unfair
“Untie him and her and let them go free.”
During this Lent as we take some time to look inward, as we think about
what binds us and how to remove the tight wrappings. I think our Gospel
reminds us of 3 significant realities that need to be clearly stated.
As Martha mentioned, regarding her brother, it is going to be a
smelly procedure. Taking off these bindings will be a slow and
painful process. It will be very messy. No real conversion happens
without pain. We may be tempted to short circuit the process. We
may want to fantasize that everything will be fine in the morning.
But it will not go away by itself!
Jesus tells others to help unbind Lazarus. We will need help also.
A good friend to listen and to challenge. A teacher, a minister, a
trained counselor and a support group. We are fooling ourselves if
we think we can do it alone!
The final point may be the most important. Right in the middle of
this smelly, messy process of unbinding that we are challenged to
enter into, we too, just like Lazarus, have the presence and
reassurance of Jesus. “I am with you!” “You are not alone, even
when it is the darkest.” “Don’t give up!” “Keep trying!”
“Untie him and her and let them go free.”

The Blind Man 3-19-2023

Friday, March 17th, 2023

The response of the Pharisees to this miracle of healing is a classic
example of the old adage, “There is none so blind as he or she who will
not see.” We do not fault these men for their investigation of the facts.
Faith should never be equated with naviete. The fault lies in their failure
to face the facts and deal with them openly and honestly. They refused
to see anything that contradicted their own little concept of the truth. We
should keep in mind that these men were not atheists. Every one of
them believed in God. Neither were they morally degenerate. In many
ways, they were people much like ourselves; yet, these were the men
who were spiritually blind. What exactly does that mean?
I. The first thing I see is their indifference to human
suffering. They obviously had little or no compassion for the
man who was born blind. Had they been genuinely
concerned for his problem, they would have rejoiced in his
healing, regardless of how it came about. But such was not
their response. I get the impression that they would have
preferred the man remain blind than have his receiving of
sight contradict their theological theories.
What that says to you and me is that we can be
religiously devout and spiritually blind at the same time. If I
understand at all the message of the New Testament, it is that
God is more concerned about people than his religious rules.
Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for
Sabbath.” Religious rules are relevant only as they serve to
protect and enrich the lives of people.
So, Jesus would not be intimidated by the orthodoxy of
the Pharisees. In his system of values, keeping the law was
not nearly important as helping the people for whom the law
was given. If you and I can learn that lesson and live by it,
we will have opened our eyes to a major truth about God and
life. The Pharisees never saw that. With them, people were
expendable; the protection and propagation of the system
were all-important. They lived in a world of spiritual
darkness and did not even know it.
II. A second element of their blindness was their inability to
see themselves. Notice their contempt for the man born
blind. They said to him, “You were steeped in sin from your
birth. Who are you to be teaching us?” They were, of
course, right about the man. He was a sinner. The interesting
thing is how they failed to see the same truth applied to them.
They were moralistic people, and they had a sharp eye for
sin, but there was something artificial about it. Whenever
they spoke of sinners, it was always in the second person or
third person, never the first person: “you sinner,” or “those
sinners,” never “we sinners.”
Exactly how they exempted themselves from the
fellowship of the fallen is not quite clear. But one thing is

Breaking Down Barriers 3-12-2023

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

I. The Gospel story points us to one of the main works of Jesus
– something we are called to do-
Breaking down barriers that divided the human family.
Some of these barriers are very real today.
II. First Barrier – was a Racial Barrier.
This woman was a Samaritan – Samaritans were
regarded as an inferior race; scum of the earth. Jews had
no respect for them; only distrust.
Jesus walked right through the Barrier like it did not
exist. He saw a person made in the image of God.
Centuries of History said they were adversaries. But
Jesus paid no attention.
She was a Human being hurting and needing some
That’s all He saw!
III. The Second Barrier – was a Social Barrier.
He was talking to a woman – they could not believe it.
This was an extremely male dominated society. Women
were definitely 2nd
class citizens and worse.
To Jesus – Each and every person was important. He
shared some of his deepest spiritual insights with women;
this woman was important to Him.
IV. The Third & Final Barrier – was the Barrier of Religion
People were fighting over where the proper place of
worship was supposed to be. My mountain versus your
mountain; my temple is better than yours.
A Religious Tug a War!
This battle was not bringing people closer together. Jesus
emphasized that no one has exclusive claim to God – God
cannot be contained in one place or controlled by a group
of people. We cannot box up God in any one set of
With Jesus the important thing was not where or so much
how you worship. But does worship connect to our
V. In Closing –
If we really want to follow Jesus – if we want to be the
church, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions
regarding these barriers that Jesus tried so hard to break
1. Do we label people – this or that because of their
nationality or skin color. Because they speak a
different language. Because they are not like us –
labels that prevent us from getting to know them as
human beings.
2. A good question for us to ask as Church – Do we still
treat women as second-class citizens?
3. Do we use our religious beliefs as a club to beat up
other religions?
4. What barriers do we need to break down right now in
our families, in this parish that are dividing us?
May our prayer this week – be this:
Lord, give us the courage to look at what divides us and the
strength to do something about these Barriers with your help.