April 2nd, 2017: 5th Sunday of Lent
Ubi Amor ibi Fides
by: Rev. Joanne Izzo
In our confirmation class this past Wednesday one of confirmandi asked a question that is one everyone’s mind: “Why are the Gospel readings so long during Lent?” So here is purpose of the readings in two sentences: The gospels during lent are like the cliff notes version of the BIG Story of God with us and among us. The BIGGER story of the difference Jesus makes in our life and THE BIGGEST and BEST story of all; Eternal Salvation which we experience as healing and hope now and eternally in Jesus.
The gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ according to St. John is tightly organized with a strong tendency to speak to the heart (feeling) with the head (thinking). However in the reading for today Martha and Mary’s loss of their brother, the loss of a dear friend for Jesus, the wailing of the mourners puts the heart front and center. The story we hear is real and messy filled with grief, pain and confusion.
In the fifth week of lent we are faced with the clear and simple fact that Grief comes before Glory. That Jesus spares himself nothing in wanting to take on all that it means to be human and vulnerable. We stand with Martha and Mary struggling for reasonable explanation particularly as we know he delayed his coming and he could have prevented Lazarus from dying. We stand with Martha and Mary seeking to hold on to faith in their beloved Jesus and His teaching. We stand as witnesses with the disciples and the mourners facing the truth that in this life there are no short cuts through suffering no matter how deep our faith may be. Not even Jesus escapes the grief. The story compels us to be present to the grief. It prepares us for a grief to come.
Each week I have asked one question, what difference does Jesus’ presence make in the world and in our lives?
What difference does Jesus’ presence make when we face grief? We find an answer in the response to the tears of Jesus: “See how he Loved him.” Love doesn’t answer the question, why? Love provides company when no answer or reasonable faith can be found. Where love is, there is faith. Amen.