MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 10 APRIL 2011 AT 11AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we see Lazarus going into the tomb to be called forth and back to life by Jesus Christ. We grapple with the frequency of death in our lives. The Church challenges us today to say whether we are really alert to the power of Christ in our daily life.
Saint John wrote in his first Letter: "God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son.” It is Jesus alone who has power over life and over death. This is why we seek to walk with Christ in our daily life, nourished by prayer, truth and honest searching to walk with Jesus at every moment.
Because we know our frailty, let us call to mind our sins and ask the Lord for pardon, light and strength.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Death can be very frustrating. How many people have moaned at the timeframe chosen by God? Why did such a person die so young? Why at this particular time did I suffer that loss? Why doesn’t God fit in more with my plans? Even Martha and Mary said to Jesus when he came after Lazarus had died, “If you had been here my brother would not have died.”
Notice that the experience of Jesus calling Lazarus forth from the tomb shows the power of God over life and over death or in the words of Ezekiel: “You will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and raise you from your graves and I will put my Spirit in you and you will live and I will re-settle you on your own soil.”
These powerful words paint a vivid picture of the stone being rolled back and Lazarus coming out of the tomb and can reassure us that all things are possible in the power of Christ. Because of the gift of his Spirit, which God has offered to us, graves will open and dead will rise, sinners are brought to life and Martha, Mary and Lazarus, because they were attuned to Jesus, came out from death to life. At Jesus’ command, ‘Lazarus, come out’, Lazarus came forth and out of his tomb to live again.
In the words of a modern American writer, Patricia Sanchez, we too can learn: “Come out from sin and selfishness to know healing and wholeness. Come out from hopelessness to a renewed trust in God. Come out from pride and self-importance to stand in humble truth before God and others. Come out from the indifference that allows injustice to foment. Come out and be part of a solution rather than a source of the problem. Come out from under those material transient preoccupations that dim spiritual sharpness and dull the appetite for God. Come out from worry and live by faith. Come out from your death in the tomb and live forever in God.”
If Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb he can raise us from our stupor, hesitancy and fright to live for God. Jesus’ words elsewhere in the Gospel, “I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in me, though he dies, will live, and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25) show us that if we entrust ourselves to the Lord in all the circumstances of life he will triumph in us. When Jesus says, “Your brother is not dead, he is asleep, he will rise again”, we, like Martha, will say, ‘Yes, Lord, we do believe, help our unbelief.’
So the Lord invites us to come out of self, to walk with him. The second half of Lent is a perfect time to come back. We do not want to enter a real tomb without having really lived with God. Confronted as we are with Jesus rising from the dead, which we will commemorate in two weeks, let us ask ourselves - do we really believe, what difference does it make for us?
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE