Cycle A 5th Sunday of Lent

  Ezek. 37:12-14; Rom. 8:8-11; Jn. 11:1-45 OR Jn. 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

Dr. Shailesh Mehta is a great cardiac surgeon in Baroda and he is quite famous. Once Dr Mehta narrated this story to his friend. He said that a couple walked into his office with a 6 year old girl and the file was given to him. Apparently, there was some serious clogging issue with the little girls' heart. The couple had already consulted some doctors who gave up on her. Dr. Mehta explained the couple that her condition was bad and she need to have an open heart surgery immediately or she will have a maximum of 3 to 6 months. He added that there was only 30% chance that the girl would survive the operation. The couple decided to go ahead with the surgery.

The child was admitted to hospital and the date was fixed. On the date of operation, as the nurses were preparing the girl for operation, Dr. Mehta went to her room. He had already done so many operations and he knew that there was a good chance that the girl wouldn’t make it. 

Dr Mehta asked the girl: “How are you feeling?” and consoled her, “Don’t worry, you'll be alright.” The girl said, “I am good. But I have a question

to ask.”

Dr Mehta asked her, “What is it?”

The girl said, “Everybody is telling me that I have to undergo open heart surgery. Does it mean that you open my heart completely?”

Dr Mehta said, “Don't worry, you won’t feel pain. I will give you medicine for that.”

The girl continued, “I am not worried but will you open my heart? Because my mom always tells me that God resides in my heart. So, if you open it, can you just see if God is their inside. After my operation tell me how he looks like.”

Dr Mehta was stumped. He didn't know what to answer. But he said he will and they continued towards Operation Theatre. The operation started. Due to clogging, blood was not flowing towards the heart. 45 minutes passed and after trying everything Dr Mehta finally told the fellow surgeons that nothing could be done. He then remembered the talk which he had with the girl. He was feeling guilty. He stepped aside.

That moment his fellow surgeon told him that blood was flowing in her heart.

Her clogs cleared. The operation was successful. The girl's heart was perfectly fine and she could now life a normal peaceful life.

As he went back to the girl after the operation. He was not sure what to tell her. He told her "Don't try to find God. God is never to be found out. He is just to be felt. I felt it during the operation. Keep faith in him and he will help you."

The little child tells us that we should remember that the Spirit of God dwells in us. During today's reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans, St Paul reminds us, "Christ is in you”. 

During today's First Reading from the Book of Ezekiel, [Ezek. 37:12-14] we heard of God's promise to put His Spirit within the people so they may live. [Ezek. 37:14] Prior to this promise, the prophet Ezekiel, led by the Spirit, was taken into the plain where his mission was revealed to him. There, Ezekiel was told that through his gift of prophesizing, God's chosen people that had been exiled in Babylon for some time would receive a new spirit that would rise them from their lost hope. Consequently they would be led to a new life in the land of Israel. [Ezek. 37:12]

In the Old Testament the dwelling place of God was in the Temple, in the Holy of Holies. No one could come into the Holy of Holies and live because of the Glory of God that was there. Only the High Priest that had prepared his body under certain instruction and had the perfect spotless lamb to sacrifice could go into it. This temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. So there were no more sacrifices.

In Revelation 21:3 John states that he heard a mighty voice from the throne saying, " the dwelling place of God is with man." In eternity, God will always be with us. This means that God's people will always enjoy close fellowship with God, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.

Today’s Gospel narrates the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus. Mary and her sister Martha sent a message to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. Obviously they wanted Him to come and heal Lazarus. 

Responding to the request to come to Lazarus, Jesus said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." [Jn. 11:4] Jesus decided to stay another two days longer in the place where He was. [Jn. 11:6]

After two days Jesus told His disciples that it was now the time for them to go to Judea. The disciples were concerned regarding this decision, knowing that on a recent visit, the people tried to stone and arrest Jesus. [Jn. 10:31, 39]

At that moment, Thomas made a comment. He said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." [Jn. 11:16]. That is the commitment that Jesus demands from each one of us in this season of lent.

Paul often spoke of Christ taking up residence in the hearts of those who accept Him as Lord and Savior. When he prayed for the believers in Ephesus, Paul longed for their faith to deepen so that Christ would be at home in their hearts: “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong” (Ephesians 3:16–17).

In our ordinary human condition of weakness, we are but jars of clay holding a priceless treasure—the life of Christ in us. The challenges we face, the persecution, trials, hardship, and suffering we endure, serve to pour out the all-surpassing power of God and reveal the life of Jesus Christ to those around us. We can rest assured that we will not be overcome in all these afflictions because we have the treasure of Jesus Christ living in us.

In 2 Corinthians 2:15. Paul likened the lives of those who share the gospel to “a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God” and “the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing”. With Christ in us, as we spread the good news of salvation in Jesus, we diffuse His fragrance to a lost and dying world.