Don't Be Afraid: 5th Sunday of Lent C

Father Jim Valk's picture

Father Jim Valk

March 13, 2013

A mother asked her little son to go out to the veranda and get a broom for her. His answer was that it was too dark and he was afraid to go outside. Mom told him not to be afraid, “God is out there”, nothing will happen to you.. The boy went to the door and shouted out- “God are you really there? If you are, please hand me the broom!”

Jesus so often tells us not to fear; that he is always with us, yesterday, tomorrow and today. He is with us in the hurts and joys and hopes of each day. Just believe in God's love for us, The little lad was afraid of the darkness. What is our darkness? Who shines for us? Who do we light up the darkness for each day? Jesus says, I know mine and mine know me. I don't call you servant any longer; I call you friend. A man who had terminal cancer was asked. if he was afraid of dying. His answer was, right now I have enough to do in living each day. Do we ”live” each day?

We can't pay God back for all his gifts to us; we can only pass them on to another. A young daughter, a Mom herself, was at the bedside of her Mom who was terminally ill. The Mother was afraid of dying. She had worked her whole life, scrubbing and cleaning for others to make a home for her family. What could she offer to God. The daughter took her Mom's rough hands in her hands and said gently- “just show God your hands- it will be more than enough”.

She didn't have to fear a God who loved her as she was:. One of the messages of this Gospel today is that God is always with us. Don't be afraid! When my Mom was very sick we heard her saying to Dad that she was sorry she could no longer do for him and us what she wanted to do. She couldn't always be around. What a great love Dad had foe her when he just said- “Maddy, I just want to be where you are- in the room where you are. Wow!

Jesus was there for Martha and Mary. Mary said that Lazarus would not have died IF ONLY Jesus had been three. His answer was that to her and us is to believe. Take out the ‘if only-s’ of our daily life and respond to God's call. Martha, do you believe? She said YES, I BELIEVE! Miracles happen, not from the outside in, but rather from the inside out. Faith in Jesus is the soil that allows miracles to happen. Do we believe this? Can I trust in God's love for me?..

Some years ago I walked through the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. The reverent silence there was sacred. Mind you, some people were only spectators- they had done the “tourist” thing. But many more gently touched the names, traced them, took time. It was obvious there had been love there from friends, family, colleagues. Jesus stood by Lazaraus as he stands by us. The force of his love for us is like a seed in the ground, a seed that even concrete can't stop. He traces our name, calls us by our name, gently reaches out to touch us.

But then comes the command. “Roll back the stone” and more- “untie him and let his go free. Who rolls back the stone that hold us in?” Who unties us when we are tied up. with our own hurts and pains. Whom do we untie? There is a play called AND LAZARUS LAUGHED. Lazarus had seen the other side. He had a glimpse of what is to be for us all. He knew the gift God has in store for those who love him.. Renoir, the artist, suffered terrible pains from arthritis in his hands When asked why he continued to paint he answered: when the pain goes, the beauty remains. God continues to open us to the beauty of his love and care.. He comes to untie us that we may be free to follow him. The little lad, at the beginning, asked- God, are you really there? Do we believe that Jesus is the good news, good news for you and for me. Don't be afraid. I am always with you.. I am really there