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WORDS FOR THE WIND WEEKEND OF MARCH 28-29

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

Before I say anything else, I want you to know that we are still booking weddings over the phone making young couples happy and making me happy and I hope you, too!

 

Young couples are forging ahead even in the midst of this awful stuff. What an inspiration to us all.

 

And we are still doing funerals, not as we would like to, but we are still offering the compassionate response that you expect us to. I have done two memorial services via conference calls and I have done a graveside service with all of the required precautions, and more, observed.

 

Some families are deferring a Catholic funeral liturgy until it is safe for us to be together again, which we will be, have no doubt both here and in the hidden love of God that we are always in, anyway, even though we don’t have to think about or believe that most of the time as we do now.

 

Thank you all, all of you, wonderful people in exile, you make our parish what it is, and you enable us to make all people welcome.

 

You can find the Gospel story for this weekend in many places if you want to see where I am coming from such as USCCB Readings or Google, New American Bible and find the Gospel of John Chapter 11 verses 1 to 45.

 

It is the story involving Jesus and Lazarus and Martha and Mary the sisters of Lazarus and Lazarus is identified as the one that Jesus loves.

 

Jesus weeps.

 

Jesus is in Jerusalem two miles from where Lazarus is dying, and he delays two days from walking the two miles, Martha and Mary both expect that had Jesus come earlier he could have stopped the dying.

 

Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to “awaken” him, and a few verses after Lazarus is awakened John tells us that the religious leaders, the chief priests and the leaders of the people will kill Lazarus.

 

All of that and more are important if we are to even come close to what John is trying to teach us.

 

So, from the earliest evidence of archeological history we know that our ancestors created what I call “good luck charms,” rings, stones as in the movie Parasite, figurines, animal body parts, all kinds of things, talismans, in an effort to be kept safe and have good things happen rather than bad.

 

These days we grieve a lot, we have lost a lot, we have no idea when or how this will end. Cherished traditions are forbidden, ordinary pleasures are denied us, fear undermines our days and our nights, anxiety haunts us.

 

We are grieving.

 

There are those who so, so badly want a world that has a God that can do anything but especially what we want done, and one of the things that we crave is that we have a God that keeps us from harm and above all stops death.

 

No matter that history is pretty consistent on the fact that death isn’t stopped, we still look for that God.

 

I like Pope Francis and I hope he offers consolation to people, but I have a hard time praying to God to end this plague. I prefer to be silent and let the God who is essentially silent “speak” to me in the silence.

 

Jesus assures us that the Spirit will supply the words so learn to trust, and besides that, the idea of notifying a loving God that we are in trouble and to be loving is a bit preposterous to me.

 

I understand that people need something to hang onto, to give them hope, I really do, but I have to stop and think about what it would mean if we had a God who could do anything including stopping death or ending this plague and  wouldn’t do it.

 

What good is a God that can do anything including stopping death who doesn’t do it?

 

God is far more mysterious and does not work like we do that is why the First Commandment is, I am the Lord they God and I shall not have strange gods before me.

 

So, let God be God and you and I be you and I and see what happens going that route instead of beating our heads against a wall with our ideas of how God should be when that is not possible.

 

So, I just want to gently suggest that you think about that, as well, as I really believe in God but a God who can only love and that is different than a superman kind of god. Think about your love and not your fear, if you can.

 

You know you do not have to agree with me, and you can believe what you want and pray the way you want, I just offer my thoughts for you to take or leave.

 

This story from the Gospel of John is among other things taking things to a higher level and teaching us that the God that Jesus reveals is not a “good luck charm” or a talisman.

 

Jesus does not resuscitate Lazarus he “awakens” him, not back to life to be murdered by a mob of egocentric religious zealots, no he “awakens” Lazarus to the truth that he is more than what he appears to be, his death does not define him and that he is loved.

 

To do this we have to go through the whole of John and “see” Jesus dies too, he goes the ultimate distance in walking into the hands of a violent death, choosing to walk into the hands of very violent and fanatical and frightened religion and the leaders of religion.

 

Jesus knew what I try and teach you, that the only thing God can do is love, Jesus will say that he believes that but that doesn’t keep him from desperation or fear, he begs to be delivered but accepts the will of his father and that will is not that he should die but that he learn that the love of God can carry him even through that most feared and awful human experience, death, a violent death.

 

Now believe me, I know that this isn’t easy to hold on to, this idea that the only thing that God can do is love and that the love of God is the only thing that lasts.

 

Real faith is not born in desperation. Faith born in desperation inevitably creates a God that is just like us.

 

Real faith is born in love and real faith born in love does not keep us from desperation nor does it keep us from harm, but it does keep us.

 

My faith is as flabby as anyone’s and I am scared, maybe terrified, and I vacillate all over the place and I cry a lot these days and it is when I cry, though, that I can see a bit more clearly.

 

I cry because I love my life and the lives of so many people that I love being with and for so many people and I have some people that have loved me and touched my heart and left their fingerprints and I think something like that is what Lazarus was awakened to.

 

Lazarus “saw!” Lazarus saw Love.

 

Remember that one of the earliest names for Christ was “eye salve,”

 

Lazarus saw through even death and so can we, I think he saw that Love is real, that love is not dependent on us but is God and God is more than we can most of the time “imagine” but we do know love so we can know God.

 

So, lets pour some of our excess love that we are squandering on ourselves into one another, into those poor people all over the world dying alone, into the doctors and nurses and their colleagues in medicine and science and into the people who are keeping groceries and power and light and water coming for us and into the people who are homeless and poor and violated in so many ways and into the emptiness of so many hearts.

 

Most of the time in my wedding homilies I allude to but do not call it that, The Mystical Body of Christ and that that young couple today are putting into the collective unconsciousness their love and that their love will become in some mysterious was an antidote to the toxicity that invades so many hearts and minds.

 

Peace,

Father Niblick