03 April 2022 – 5th Sunday of Lent (Rite of Scrutinies)

by Fr Joachim Robert

Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 129
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45

God rescues us from the deceitful and cunning

Dear friends,

As we listen to this story of Jesus’ raising Lazarus on this day where our candidates enter into this Rite of Scrutiny, it reminds us of our own journey we too have taken to unbind ourselves.

And I am sure, dear friends, our candidates, moving from where they were to where they are, have gradually been attracted to the invitation that God has given to them. Areas where they were bound in their former life, now God has calls them out to free them and to give them new life in His resurrection.

And that is why it says:- Lazarus, here, come out. And Lazarus came out with his hands and his feet bound. But Jesus said: Unbind him and let him go free.

And whenever we respond to the invitation, dear friends, we allow the Lord to set us free from our past ways of life, from our own sins, from our own obstacles of life that makes us hopeless and helpless and to find our grace in Him.

And at the invitation of Jesus, you and I have responded in love. You and I have responded in obedience. And this whole journey that we take during Lent is a journey of saying ‘Yes’ to Jesus. A journey where we are led from where we are into the glory of His love.

And if we have taken the Alternative Reading of today, the 5th Sunday of Lent, we would have seen the woman caught at the very act of adultery. There too, in that story, reminds us how this woman went to many, many different places, different men in order to find happiness and and to find freedom. But whenever we get caught up in that sort sin, dear friends, or whatever situation of sin that we are in, we find ourselves getting bound and bound and bound again, not being able to let go, not being able to be free. Whenever that situation arose, at the alternative reading, Jesus tells the woman:-

Go and sin no more.

As we take that step and that journey, dear friends, we need to remind ourselves that the Lord continues to give us the grace to walk closely towards Him.

Today’s Second Reading tells us that we are people we are interested in spiritual things, not un-spiritual things. Whenever we are interested in spiritual things, we put God first at the center of our lives. And the Lord leads us out from where we are, from the brokenness of the situation that we are in and He wants to set us free.

If we look at our own lives, dear friends, we sometimes get caught up in a situation of sin where we are bound together, not able to let go, crippled with the sins of the past that prevents us from being free. And that invitation is given to you, dear friends, especially our candidates today as much as it is given to all of us, to let go and let God. To allow God’s grace and God’s mercy and love to consume you and to allow the transforming grace of His love to lead you into a new live in Him.

And as we pray together with you today, aa you take the necessary steps to prepare your hearts to receive the baptism that God has called you, we too are reminded of the invitation that we have been given in our own baptism and the journey that we have taken in order to say ‘Yes’.

And each time we see new candidates preparing themselves, it is a constant reminder for you and I that we too have been graced by God and it is an opportunity for us to re-look at ourselves and how we have grown.

And as we look at the Sacrament of Confession, dear friends, and for us as a parish tomorrow is our Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance, and we come together to seek reconciliation from God so that He is able to dispense His mercy and love to us. In the same way how He dispenses His love for Lazarus, how he dispenses His love to the woman caught in the very act of adultery, He says to each and every one of us:-

Go and sin no more.

And He gives us the freedom, dear friends, to take up our cross and follow Him because that freedom that has been given to you and given to me gives us the opportunity to exercise our love for God and for Jesus. And whenever we look at these candidates who are preparing themselves, it edifies us in order to say ‘Yes’ that Jesus continuing to work His miracles in our lives and the people around us. And we become a testimony that God is still present and God still continues to work His miracle around us.

So today we pray, dear friends, we pray for ourselves and we pray for the candidates that in these remaining days of Lent, our journey that leads us towards the glory of the Resurrection at Easter, give us an opportunity to look at the areas of our lives where God has lifted us up from our brokenness, where God has lifted us up from the situation of sin that we were in. And whenever we look at those moments where God lifts us up, let us be thankful, let us be grateful for the opportunity that He has given to us.

Because every moment of sin, dear friends, is a moment, an opportunity of God’s grace to be at work in our lives. Because whenever we sin, the sense of guilt, the sense of pain, the sense of isolation, makes us realise that we have a relationship with God.

And we need to continue to grow in that relationship of love which the Father invites us into so that we can be set free and the freedom can be only found in Jesus.

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