Fr. Remi's Homily for March 29th, 2020
Hello everyone. This Sunday is the fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A. The first reading is from Ezekiel, chapter 37, verse 12-14. The second reading is taken from the letter of Paul to the Romans, chapter 8, verse 8-11. And the Gospel comes from the holy Gospel according to John, chapter 11, verse 1-45.
The prophet Ezekiel prophesized during the Babylonian exile. The Babylonians invaded Jerusalem and destroyed a temple in 597 BC. Important people from Judah were exiled to Babylon. Israel was like a dead nation. This ordeal was attributed to sin.
In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel gives new hope to the people. He foresees the resurrection of Israel. God will bring them back to Jerusalem and his spirit will give them new life. Ezekiel proclaims, “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them. I will put my spirit in you that you may live, I will settle you upon your land.”
This faith of God has been given to us through Jesus. We are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Paul calls the disciples of Christ the temple of the Holy Spirit. This Lent is a time to awaken the Spirit through prayers, repentance, and works of faith, so that we can rise from the darkness of sin into the new life of Jesus.
The responsorial Psalm, taken from Psalm 130, is a plea for God’s mercy. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice!” From the fullness of our hearts, we implore the Lord to forgive us our sins out of His immense mercy.
In the Gospel, the raising of Lazarus from the dead reveals Jesus as the Messiah, the light of the world. This sign was intended to awaken the faith of Jesus’s disciples so that believing in Jesus they would have eternal life. The purpose of Jesus’s signs is found in John chapter 20, verse 30-31: “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”
The fate of this miracle is that many came to believe that Jesus is Lord, the giver of the fullness of life. This miracle also points to Jesus’s death and resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is the base of our own resurrection. He has promised that anyone who believes in him, though he dies, will live. This promise renews our hope. It sustains and gives meaning to our faith.
Fr. Remi's Homily for March 22nd, 2020
The theme of the readings is Jesus, the light of the world, the one who gives life and restores sight (the one who brings salvation). In the first reading, David is called into the light of the Lord. From obscurity (from the shepherd boy), he was chosen and anointed king, to lead God’s people. God’s way is not our way. God sees differently and raises the lowly to confound the proud. While we look at appearances, God looks at the heart.
In the second reading, Ephesians once lived without faith, but through baptism, have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Their work must now correspond with their new life in Jesus. Through baptism, we too have become sons and daughters of the light. Paul encourages us to turn away from the darkness of sin, and let the light of Christ shine through our good works.
The responsorial Psalm reassures of God’s presence and protection. “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want”. As people of faith, this is meaningful at all times, especially during this time of crisis. As we observe the maximum precaution against COVID-19, the Church calls us to prayer, reminding us that the Lord is our Shepherd.
In the Gospel, the healing of the blind man presents Jesus as the Messiah, the light of the world. This is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about the role of the Messiah. Isaiah chapter 35, verse 5-6, and 29, verse 18: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.”
Jesus is the light that enlightens everyone. He is the light that opens our eyes to the Father. To come to Jesus in faith is to accept the light. The blind man symbolizes any person without faith, whom Jesus has come to save.
At first, he sees Jesus simply as one “who helps and heals.” He argues with the Pharisees in defense of Jesus. A man who performs this kind of miracle, he says, cannot be a sinner. He is a prophet, and such a prophet must come from God. Even in the face of imminent expulsion from the synagogue, the blind man stood his ground. Like the Samaritan woman, his eyes were opened. He grows in faith and recognizes Jesus as his Savior and Lord, and worshiped him. His attitude contrasts the sinful blindness of the Pharisees and their rejection of Jesus. I quote, “Only those are blind who will not see.” They are blind, who do not see the “finger of God” in Jesus and his work of salvation and believe in him.
The pool of Siloam is a sign of the waters of baptism by which we are cleansed and enlightened by faith in Jesus. Baptism is the sign of our new life. Through baptism, we begin our journey to God. We pray that the Lord may heal us and help us to grow in faith.