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Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD

March 26, 2023 / 5th Sunday of Lent – A

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A group of friends wanted to know if there was basketball in heaven. They agreed that whoever died first should come back to inform them.

Conrad died first. One night, Rodel heard something like the voice of Conrad. Rodel blurted out: “Are you the one, Conrad”? Conrad replied, “Yes.” Rodel said, “Okay, tell me: Is there basketball in heaven?” Conrad replied: “Yes, but I have good and bad news for you. The good news is there is basketball in heaven. The bad news: you will join us in the game tomorrow”!

* * *

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent. The gospel tells us that Jesus raised Lazarus back to life. Lazarus’ resurrection was intended as a preview of Jesus’ own resurrection after three days in the grave.

For us Christians, like Conrad and Rodel, death is not the end. There’s life after death, unlike atheists who do not believe in God. As someone bantered: “When an atheist or Christ unbeliever dies, he is all dressed-up—but nowhere to go!”

* * *

Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live forever” (read Jn 11,25). No matter how devastating or fearsome death may seem, with Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, we make an act of firm faith, professing, “Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (11,27).

* * *

When Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, he showed something he rarely did: WEEP. That’s not all. He showed his love and compassion in public by raising Lazarus to life after four days in the tomb.

The act of Jesus is not something only to be admired but a lesson we should emulate. Many times we think that Mass going, doing the Lenten rituals, or praying are enough to attain eternal salvation.

* * *

No doubt, they are important but that’s not enough. We should also complement it by good works. Jesus explicitly teaches that in the Last Judgment we will be judged not by our vast wealth, talents, and good looks but by how much we have helped the “least of Christ’s brethren” (Mt 25,35-36).

St. James, the Apostle, reinforces that when he said: “Faith, without works, is dead” (St. James, 2,17).

* * *

It’s very inspiring that there are some proprietors of vast malls and companies who, as an act of charity, support the scholarship of numerous students coming from poor families.

Likewise, there are employers who provide their helpers and workers security for their old age (SSS), sick leave pay or housing benefits. May there be more of such “Good Samaritans.”

* * *

You don’t have to be wealthy in order to do good. You can do it in whatever capacity you can or share the three Ts—Time, Treasure, Talent.

If we follow the teaching of Christ on reaching out to the less fortunate, we will not be afraid of death when we meet Him in the Last Judgment.

* * *

LENTEN HUMOR. A priest was walking alone in a dark alley, when suddenly a burly man sidled beside him and poked a knife at his rib. “Akin na ang wallet mo” (Give me your wallet), he growled.

“Anak, nagkakamali ka” (Son, you’re mistaken), the priest said, “ako ang cura paroko dito sa malapit na parokya” (I’m the parish priest of the nearby parish).”

* * *

Upon hearing this, the hold-upper changed his tone and sheepishly said, “Ah sorry, Father.” Wanting to befriend the guy, the pastor offered a cigarette. To which he replied: “Sorry, Father, cuaresma ngayon; ako’y nag aayuno sa paninigarilyo” (it’s Lent and I’m fasting from smoking). * * * The guy’s Lenten fasting is admirable but he is engaged in hold-upping. A double-standard piety.

* * *

‘7 LAST WORDS.’ The SVD Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. will telecast online over ABS-CBN (Kapamilya channel) the “7 Last Words” on Good Friday, April 7 at 12noon-3 p.m. Join us at the Divine Word Shrine in Christ the King Seminary, E. Rodriguez Blvd., Q.C. or through your mobile phone or e-mail.

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