2020-03-295th Sunday of LentRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

Have you ever heard the story about the priest who was giving a sermon about death? He started out by saying: "Everyone in this parish is going to die." A man in the front pew started to laugh which really irritated the priest who repeated, "Maybe you didn't hear me correctly. I said, Everyone in this parish is going to die." Still, the man in the front pew laughed. And so the priest asked him, "What do you find so funny?" The man said, "I'm laughing because I'm not from this parish."

Obviously, death is no laughing matter. Most people do not like to think about it, let alone talk about it. I think that all of us like to pretend that it is never going to happen to us or to someone that we love.

As a young person, you rarely think about death until someone you know dies. But as you grow older, more and more of your friends and family members die. And as you become more aware of death, you begin to study the names in the obituary. You find yourself attending more wakes and funerals. As you grow older, you begin to think a lot more about your own mortality, especially when aches and pains become prevalent in your life.

The question remains: Why does the Church ask us to reflect on death on this particular weekend? Why do we have this long gospel from St. John about Lazarus? How does this story about Lazarus differ from our Easter readings?

We know that the message of Easter is resurrection from the dead. But what is the purpose of this Lazarus story?

What I have concluded is this. Lazarus is a person who was dead and comes back to life. But Lazarus comes back to live on this earth.

I think that most of us assume that Lazarus was good man because he was a friend of Jesus but there is always the possibility that Lazarus was not that good.

Whether Lazarus is a saint or a sinner is not that important. What is important is this. How did Lazarus handle his second chance at living? Was he a better person because of the experience? Was he a more religious and ethical person in his second life? Did he become more considerate of the needs of others once he was given that second chance?

Many people who have had "near-death" experiences talk about seeing the person of light. However, not everyone who has had a near-death experience sees the person of light. Some people report that what they saw was a terrifying experience, a place of torment that literally scares the hell out of them. Once they realized that they were being given a second chance to live, they tried to make the most of it by becoming better people.

Not many of us have had near-death experiences but many of us have heard stories about people who have. However, all of us have had opportunities to turn our lives around - to be born again as it were.

This Sunday we are asked to be more conscious of our own vulnerability, to be more conscious of our own mortality, to be more conscious of the fact that we have only one life to live and it only makes sense to live that life in union with Jesus Christ. It is only in Him that we will be able to find true fulfillment and happiness. Jesus Christ is that person of light.

Some day we will have to give an account of our lives on earth to Jesus. Some day will be our own judgment day.

I want to go to heaven and I want to see you there, too. "Let's take advantage of the time we have left."

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