Pastoral Note: The 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent provide an option for using the “Year A” readings at Mass for the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process. At the Cathedral this year, we will be using Year A during these weeks for this very reason, and the reflection is offered below for all who will be hearing these readings in solidarity with those in RCIA who are joining the Church this year.
Study: Reflect on a time when you were given a second chance. How did you feel? How did you respond?
Pray: Is there something in your past that has held you back from growing? Ask the Lord for the grace to begin again.
Serve: Is there someone you know who could use a second chance? How can you help them to start over?
Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast (from Lent 2014)
Anyone who plays games knows about second chances. They happen in board games when we get to “roll again”, and they happen in sporting events when one team gets a break through a change in the action. They are part of the game, and they usually bring plenty of excitement and interest.
A second chance usually gives the player new opportunities and hope. When a second chance is offered, it provides for the possibility to correct past mistakes. Second chances can revitalize a player’s efforts. Simply put, they can breathe new life into the game.
In the Gospel today we hear how Jesus calls Lazarus back from the dead. Lazarus, who had been in the tomb four days, was loved by family and friends alike. This love is witnessed in Jesus, whose tears reveal the depth of his concern.
I have always wondered how the story of Lazarus continued after this miracle. What did people say every time they saw him? Did people point to him as an example of the power of Jesus? Did he wake up each day thanking God for another opportunity to love the people around him?
This miracle shows us a fundamental truth about God: the Lord grants us second chances. Through the miracle of Jesus, Lazarus has been given back the gift of life. This miracle provides the possibility for him to look back on the past and make a break with it. In other words, his new life is an opportunity to begin again.
The story of Lazarus inspires us with hope. God gives us second chances, too! There are times when we may reflect on our lives, and we know that there is something that needs to change. We need to let it “die” so that God can call us back to life.
Perhaps we have acted or spoken in a way that has been harmful to another. Perhaps we have abused our bodies or put ourselves or others at risk through unwise choices. Or maybe an event or decision in the past has kept us from living our lives in the present.
Whatever it is, God gives us a second chance. Through his journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, Jesus makes it possible for us to break from sin and live in the light of God’s grace. We can start again, living with the faith, hope, and love that can only come from Jesus Christ.