Fifth Sunday of Lent
March 29, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Ez 37:12-14 / Ps 130 / Rom 8:8-11 / Jn 11:1-45
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Ever since I have had a Facebook account, I usually deactivate it during the season of Lent. Three years ago, after the forty days of Lenten season, for one reason or another, I just didn’t bother to reactivate it. So my Facebook account was practically dead for about thirty-six months.
In our priest gathering about a month ago, our bishop encouraged us to at least try to use social media for evangelization. So, to make a long story short, my Facebook account, like Lazarus in today’s gospel, came back to life.
What a blessing it has been for me to rediscover the virtual world of communications technology! In the past ten days, I was able to reconnect with my 1975 classmates from high school, whom I have not heard from in more than forty years. Then one thing led to another, and I eventually heard from long lost relatives whom I have not seen nor talked to for decades.
Why is it that suddenly even the Baby Boomers and the so-called Silent Generation, who ordinarily don’t care about social media, now have the patience and the time to look at the screens of their cell phones, tablets, iPads, and laptops? (Oh yes, also their stocks.) Simply because, during the last few days, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are spending more and more time at home, probably for the first time since we were in preschool.
We find ourselves hanging around with the members of our families and reconnecting with our loved ones in other parts of the country or the world, through Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of communication on the Worldwide Web.
I also notice that Facebook posts are getting more and more religious in nature. We now watch and attend Mass, adoration, and benediction through our laptops, desktops, and even through our cellphones. Yes, we are praying together at this very moment, via Facebook Live. Pope Francis, bishops, priests, deacons, and other religious groups are getting more followers.
This pandemic is an invisible enemy we have to defeat and destroy with God’s help. But in the meantime it forces us to realize that our best place of refuge is our home. The best company we can ever have in this world is our family. And the best protection we can ever get is from God.
It is not God’s will that this pandemic should come to destroy human lives. We just happen to be living in a disordered world, ever since our first parents were driven out of paradise. But God’s words in the sacred scriptures give us hope.
Today’s psalm reminds us that with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption. God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to save us, and the good news is that the same Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead is the same Jesus who will be with us not only during and long after Covid-19 is long gone, but until the end of time.
In the gospel of John, Jesus said, “In the world, you will have trouble. But take courage, for I have overcome the world.”
Last Friday the Holy Father gave an Urbi et Orbi, or “to the city and to the world,” message. At the end of his message, Pope Francis said a prayer that we should make our own: “Lord, you ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak, and we are fearful. But You, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again not to be afraid, and we, together with Peter, will cast all our anxieties unto You, for You care for us.”