These readings are apt ones for our current situation. I imagine many of you feel almost in exile with the social distancing, recommendations to stay home, and the suspension of public Mass, the world around us feels quite weird, almost dead. But the Good News God brings to us this week reminds us that it is from such things that God works the most glorious miracles.
The first reading is God speaking to the prophet Ezekiel. The children of Israel are languishing in a time of sin and exile. They are spiritually dead and scattered, and yet God’s words point to His plans and desires for His people: a new life in their homeland! Not only this, but God promises His very Spirit to dwell among them as a perpetual reminder of what He has done.
The second reading doubles down on the Spirit with the Apostle Paul writing about the Spirit of Christ dwelling within us. Paul also equates the Spirit with life, the kind of life made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and reminds his readers that this life cannot be undone by the mortality of our bodies, but is part of God Himself!
Lastly, in the Gospel we hear of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. Jesus accompanies the sisters Martha and Mary in their grief, even knowing that death would not be Lazarus’ end. Rather, the Lord of Life calls out to his friend to come out of the tomb, and Lazarus does so to the glory of God and for the conversion of many who saw it.
In the last chapter of Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis urges the faithful to call upon the Holy Spirit (the same spirit promised to Ezekiel and extolled by Paul!) to be the source of all our evangelizing efforts. We are encouraged to pray, work, and like the Jews who saw Lazarus rise, reach out to others with our own experience of the Resurrection. Francis calls us to a renewal of our friendship with Christ, reminding us that the Resurrection is not some event of the past. This is the core of missionary discipleship, the conviction that life without Jesus is not even close to life with Him. Certainly, Lazarus’ life or Paul’s life would not have been the same without Jesus, and look how those moments changed the lives of others! Hopefully the same can be said of us! And in these troubled and scattered times, we remember that God has already won the victory for us!