Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lazarus, Life, Death: and More

Readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent 2014:

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2014

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
March 6, 2014

We have homily group with Father Greg on most Thursdays which has caused me to change all of my plans for today's homily, to reflection on six words from today's gospel reading. That being, "And Jesus wept." And, "Lazarus, come out!" Keep these six words in mind as I share with you some of the thoughts that I shared with Father Mark, then he challenged me to share with you, what I told him.

Some of the story, at least parts of it you have heard from this pulpit but never the complete story. The story begins with the illness and death of my wife Agnes now almost 9 1/2 years ago. Father Andrew attended her with great compassion those last few days and she was saying things to him that I only learned about later. She told him one day that she was glad Lawrence was a Deacon, it would give them something to do. Could she have really realized the connection that her Deacon would have to this parish community?

Two things she told me shortly before she died that will stay with me forever, one being that she wanted to go to heaven to hold her baby, for we had lost a baby and miscarriage. She also told me that she was not afraid to die, for that wasn't the problem: it was the process. And I'm betting the vast majority of us would say amen to that. Father Andrew reminded me at homily group that I had commented when Agnes died, that now we have a celibate Deacon. I honestly do not remember saying that but if Father Andrew says is true, you can bet it's true.

Her death has left a huge hole in my heart, as well must have happened to Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus. Death it seems is so final, yet our hope is in Eternal Life.

My oldest son and his wife took me on a cruise after Agnes's death. We flew into New York, took a ship up the coast and down the St. Lawrence waterway. A great blessing aboard that ship was a Priest and his group, so we had Mass each day. One day he told me specifically that the Mass would be Agnes.

Returning to Minnesota, and now I'm leaving my son's house and I remember parking in his driveway and crying, and crying, and crying. Finally, thinking my son is going to be excited if he sees my car still in his driveway.

My reflection of that happening is what I shared with Father Mark, that he indicated I needed to share with you. The question for me arises, why did you cry?, who are you crying for?, Finally I concluded, I was not crying for Agnes, I was crying for myself. Crying, for suddenly I realized how alone I was. Going home to an empty house was something I was not used to.

But how quickly things change and how much did Agnes know that she was now telling us that her husband being an Deacon would fill his life with the Love of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and his concern for each and everyone of you.

Having shared all of this with you today I nevertheless would want you to reflect on the Gospel reading of today concerning Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Maybe opening your Bible when you get home starting with chapter 11 of John's Gospel and read through the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus and realize that this is a story of family relationships. The restoration of Lazarus' dead body is also a restoration of a family. The point I'm trying to make is that, whether a family is restored fully here on earth or restored fully in heaven it is the mission of God, because God sees in human beings the necessity of family relationships.

About 9 1/2 years ago now John Paul II was asked the question, "would your desire to be and see your loved ones in heaven detract from the Beatific Vision?" His answer was, "Oh no, but it will enhance it".

Again, what I'm trying to say is that, just because the family is broken, because of the death, of one of its members that this is not a permanent happening. I am so convinced of this that it causes me to reflect on the Holy Family and their brokenness, at the death of Joseph, and Jesus, and finally the restoration of that family when Mary is Assumed into heaven by her Son. The Holy Family is forever in Heaven, together.

Brokenness, can be a parish happening as well. So for a couple of moments we will reflect on the death of Father Richard McGuire. Apparently seven weeks ago he learns that he has lung cancer and comes home and tells the priest he's living with, I'm going to see Jesus before you! Many parishes and peoples are hurting because this most wonderful priest has been called home. The brokenness that we feel here on earth will be restored in heaven, where brokenness is healed, where with loved ones, we behold the Face of God.

So you all be Good, be Holy, and preached the Gospel always and if necessary use Words!

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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