5th Sunday of Lent – Open the Grave / Open the Heart

It’s hard to believe that we are in the fifth week of Lent. In this time of unprecedented changes to our routines we have a shared sense of loss. We have lost our regular schedules. Many have lost income, a sense of security, connections to education, and perhaps even time spent with loved ones. This Lenten season, the season of loss, we have an opportunity to be that much more connected with our Lord as He experienced His loss of life with the sacrifice of the Cross.

As always we can look to our scripture for a better understanding of our relationship and connection to God. In the first reading, we hear from the prophet Ezekiel. He is the messenger of God as all prophets are. God speaks through Ezekiel and says “I will open the graves.” This is very similar to the message of another great prophet – the prophet Isaiah. He proclaims a similar message from God. Isaiah tells the people that they will know God is in their midst as Messiah and Savior when these things happen: The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the mute will speak, the lame will walk, and the dead will be raised to life.

In last Sunday’s Gospel we hear that Jesus cures a man blind from birth. One would think that the people would jump for joy recognizing that the Scriptures have been fulfilled. However they decide to turn a blind eye to the acts and identity of Jesus as the Divine One. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus do something even more remarkable. He raises one from the dead. Can there be a more clear sign? The words of God promised through the prophet Ezekiel have come true!

It is significant that when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus is bound hand and foot. This was the ancient Jewish custom to wrap the ankles and wrists with burial bands. So Jesus gives the command “Untie him”.

We can reflect upon this for ourselves. What are the things that bind us up spiritually? In other words, what are the things that keep us from having a fully awake and alive connection to God? Jesus speaks of being dead as being asleep and being fully alive as being awake. Perhaps we are bound up spiritually by things such as anger, or pride, or an exaggerated sense of being offended. All these are the things that we need to ask God to help us drop to the ground like burial bands. In turn, we need to also ask God to help us be fully awake and alert to joy and love and life.

Ask yourself who in your life causes you to be fully alive? Who comes into your company and you just feel a surge of joy? Your heart leaps when you see them? That person helps you connect with love and therefore connect to God. Today let us celebrate those connections with family friends and with her God. Let us pray that we may always seek to be fully alive and awake in God’s Spirit. God opened the grave, let Him open your heart.

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