March 26, 2023 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032623.cfm)
So angry, disappointed, and frustrated with God for letting his mother get seriously sick, a seminarian once was about to leave to seminary. In prayer, he said to God, “Lord, I have been your obedient follower. I’ve taken care of your people, but how could you let my mother get seriously sick?” And in response, he heard God saying: “Son, I know how you love your mother, it’s good that you have been so concerned about your mother’s health. But can you please give a chance to heal her? She is also my concern. Did I not tell you to have faith? My plans for her are much better than yours, same as my plans for you are much better than yours.”
How much of us here, have not been frustrated with God? Yes, in one way of another, we have sometimes experienced how it is to be frustrated & disappointed with God. There are times or moments in our lives that we have felt angry, disappointed, and frustrated with God, especially at times when we were helpless in life, needing His presence, but instead we experience His absence and seeming darkness or dryness in life. Yes, like sometimes we are disappointed and frustrated with our parent, sometimes we are also disappointed and frustrated with God, whether we like it or not.
Like here in our gospel today, people were disappointed with our Lord Jesus. Mary and Martha, his friends were also frustrated with Jesus, saying “Lord, if you have here, my brother could have been saved”. Consider that days even before Lazarus died, they have already informed Jesus how sickly Lazarus, his friend who lived nearby, has been. But Jesus seemingly did not respond or did not care. Only four days after Lazarus death, that Jesus went to visit. Who would not be disappointed and frustrated with Jesus not able to respond to a family crisis?
People might be disappointed or frustrated with Jesus then, same way, that we might have been disappointed or frustrated with God now.
However, our gospel today reminds us again that God has a different view of life than the way we see things. For God, our experiences, perceptions and understanding of sufferings, deaths, problems, and crises in life – frustrating and painful they might be, play a great part or role in God’s plans. Jesus’ seeming passivity or insensitivity toward Lazarus was his way of teaching us to let God be God in our lives.
When he learned that Lazarus was sick, Jesus said: “This sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory”. And when he performed the miracle of resuscitating Lazarus, he said: “so that they may believe it was you who sent.” Meaning, for Jesus, there is more to sickness and dying or more to illness and death. For Jesus, sickness and health, life in its greatness and sufferings are opportunities for us to witness God’s graces working in us – a chance for God to heal us or revive us not only from physical but also spiritual sickness or spiritual death, and to offer us fullness of life with Him. It is a chance for God to show us His divine Glory and Mercy and for us to benefit from it, and to know that He is the Lord. In other words, not misfortunes but blessings-in disguise.
As one wise guru would say, “Being sick is an opportunity to experience yourself and God in a new way. It is the chance to teach the mind and the soul to remain independent from the body and so connect with your inner resources of peace and silence in God.”
So whenever we get sick or have experienced death in our family, or is frustrated with God, let Him say to you…”Give up, Surrender, Let me Be God to You. Give me a chance to be God, not as you want me to be but as I choose to be. My plans, my ways, my glory are much greater than yours. So that you may have not only life, but life to its fullness with Me.” Consider then that whatever & however circumstances we may find ourself – whether in sickness, sinfulness, despair, desperations & sufferings, could be blessings-in disguise – great opportunities for God’s grace be known in us & God’s glory be revealed through us, and for ours to rise into the occasion to witness & proclaim our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, His son to others.
While we grapple with life’s questions, frustrations, and challenges, may Thomas Merton’s prayer of abandonment express our true heart’s desire before our Lord whom we believe most….
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
So May it Be. Amen.