Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
5th Sunday of Lent, Year A | April 5/6, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
How many of you have ever participated in untangling a human knot?
For those of you who have never had this experience, let me briefly try and describe the process. A group of people each grab someone else’s hand so that all of the arms are now intertwined. The object is now to untangle this group of people to form a perfect circle, without anyone ever letting go of their partner’s hand.
I must admit it is pretty amusing to watch people jump over arms, crawl between legs and twirl around in an effort to untangle.
Now, I have worked on my share of retreats and summer camps in which the human knot is a classic team-builder. Often, students will arrive with a confidence that they can unravel in record time.
So I make sure to up the ante. I blindfold a few and then bind their legs together.
Suddenly, they are powerless. They do not know what is going on. They don’t know where they should go. And they are prevented from helping their peers. All because of a few strips of cloth.
I kept thinking of those students as I read our Gospel for today.
For here is Lazarus, restored to life.
And yet he is still stuck in a cave, in the dark, bound with wrappings. Unsure of what is happening. Uncertain of where he should go.
He is paralyzed by his own shroud.
Now, we may not be bound with cloth, but I would argue that we have our own wrappings that bind us just as tightly.
We are bound with fear . . .
Fear of the unknown, the future
Fear of failure
Fear of finding ourselves alone.
We are bound by our own doubts
We doubt we are making a difference. That our lives matter
We doubt whether things will ever change.
We doubt if we can ever live up to the expectations that we place upon ourselves. Or that others place on us.
We doubt that God is there. That God even cares.
Like Martha, we can’t help but cry out.
If only you had been here . . .
I wouldn’t have lost my job
My wife would not have gotten sick
I would not have had to bury my child
I would not have been bullied
He would not have left.
These tragedies would not keep happening.
We are bound with our shame
The truths about who we are that we refuse to show the world . . .
The fact that we are gay or that we struggle with an eating disorder
The fact that we got pregnant in high school or that we are an alcoholic
The fact that we suffer from depression or that we were abused.
And with all of these wrappings, we too find ourselves paralyzed. Unable to leave the darkness that we find ourselves in.
But then, like Lazarus, we hear a voice.
Whether you must stumble or hop, whether you must crawl or drag yourself forward, come out!
But, we protest. I am afraid.
Do not be afraid, I am with you.
But, we protest, I have my doubts.
Do not be afraid, I am right here.
But, we protest, don’t you know who I am. Don’t you know what I have done?
Do not be afraid, I love you.
We are in the final stretch my friends. Lent is almost over. And once again, we are given an invitation.
To leave our caves and walk into the arms of a God who stands waiting to remove our shrouds, who gestures to each of us to step forward and untie our brother and sister. To let them go.
It is time my friends. Let us leave our caves together.
May God be Praised.
Image courtesy of http://www.cruzblanca.org/hermanoleon/