HOMILY: Second Chances

5th Sunday of Lent | April 1-2 2017

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons

PROTIP: You can take a look at the readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

I believe that there are moments in life when you realize you have received a second chance.

Mine came when I was a sophomore in college.

I was in a car with my friend returning from dinner. We were laughing and chatting, without much of a care in the world.

​We then entered an intersection and everything seemed to happen in slow motion.

​Another car completely blew through a red light heading straight towards my passenger side.

​I did not have time to speak.

​I did not have time to act.

​I just remember looking at those headlights and thinking, I am going to die tonight.

But somehow, my friend kept control of the vehicle and swung it into an oncoming lane of traffic that by the grace of God was empty.

The other car continued on its way, leaving two stunned college students in its wake.

I remember we pulled to the side of the road and just stared at each other for a moment.

And then my friend, in utter sincerity, looked at me and said. God obviously wasn’t finished with us quite yet.

God wasn’t finished with us yet.

It’s funny, the world seemed so different that night.

When we got back to campus, I remember looking at everything as if I had never quite seen it before.

I remember walking into a meeting that I was already late for and just hugging each person there with tears in my eyes.

I couldn’t explain. I just kept saying, I just really love you guys and I wanted you to know that.

I remember taking the long route home to my dorm, soaking in the beauty of a campus I so often took for granted.

And I remember pausing before I walked inside my room and staring up into the night sky with awe and gratitude.

And yet, as the memory of that day would fade. My life would return to normal.

I would begin to take things for granted once again.

I allowed myself to become stressed and anxious over the daily grind of life.

I began missing the opportunities to say the things that really matter . . . ​I miss you. I’m sorry. Thank you. I’m proud of you. I’ve got you. I love you.

And maybe worst of all, I stopped reflecting on the truth that my friend shared that night. I had more important things to do then worry about what God might want from me. I had my own plans I needed to accomplish thank you very much.

Looking back on that entire experience, I couldn’t help but think of the Gospel for this weekend.

For Lazarus truly received one heck of a second chance. You can’t get much more dramatic than being raised from the dead.

And yet we do not hear a word of what that experience was like for Lazarus.

We never hear about what he chose to do with that second chance.

​Did he return to his normal routines?

​Did he dramatically leave everything and follow Christ?

Was it something that he thought of every moment or was it an experience that faded with time?

Was he the same old Lazarus or did Christ raise someone new from the dead?

At the end of the day, we simply don’t know.

The remainder of his life is a mystery. A mystery that offers us profound lessons as we enter the waning days of Lent.

For we are Lazarus my friends.

Some of us receive second chances that are more dramatic. And in those moments, God’s presence can seem to break through and overwhelm us.

But in all honesty, each and every day we are given a second chance.

As air floods are lungs. As our eyes open to another day. We are given another chance.

God is not finished with us yet.

And yet, as we have seen this morning, there is no guarantee that we will take advantage of a second chance.

It is a choice we must make. Over and over again.

Maybe we do not hear the rest of Lazarus’ story because it is our story to finish.

​Are we seeing the world as ones who have been given the gift of a second chance?

​Are we taking our world for granted or are we seeing it as if for the first time?

Are we allowing our hearts to fill with gratitude or are we still caught in fear or anxiety, sorrow or anger, guilt or pride?

Are we saying what needs to be said to those we love? Are we mending what is broken? Are we taking advantage of the now? Or are we putting it off. Presuming there will be a tomorrow. Presuming that they already know it. Presuming that we’ll get to it next time.

Are we using this moment to seek God’s will, recognizing that God’s not done with us yet? Or are we still building our own castles in the sand, oblivious that the waves will one day wash them out to sea?

We are a risen people my friends. Let us live in the Spirit as beloved children of God.

May God be Praised.

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