Jesus Wept - Monsignor Yennock's Homily from March 28, 2020

Mar 30, 2020

JESUS WEPT. FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT, MARCH 29, 2020

ON CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24, 1968 APOLLO 8, THE FIRST MANNED MISSION TO THE MOON, ENTERED THE LUNAR ORBIT. THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME ASTRONAUTS WENT TO THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT HUMAN BEINGS COULD LOOK AT THAT LITTLE BLUE SPEC AGAINST A BACKGROUND OF WHITE, THAT WE CALL EARTH. NO HUMAN BEING HAD EVER SEEN THAT BEFORE. IT WAS A SIGHT THAT CHANGED THEIR LIVES.

WHAT WAS THEIR REACTION? WHAT WAS THE FIRST THOUGHT THAT CAME TO THE HUMAN MIND CONFRONTED WITH THIS AWESOME VIEW OF THE UNIVERSE? THE ASTRONAUTS DID NOT GO TO SHAKESPEARE TO EXPRESS THEIR REACTION; THEY DIDN’T GO INTO CLASSIC LITERATURE. THEY REACHED INTO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE, THE BOOK OF GENESIS: IN THE BEGINNING GOD. IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH.

SUDDENLY THESE MEN OF SCIENCE BECAME MORE AWARE OF THE ETERNITY OF GOD. SUDDENLY THEY WERE STRUCK BY THE ETERNAL DEPTHS OF REALITY. WHEN WE ARE STANDING ON THE EARTH WE FEEL LIKE WE OWN IT. WHEN WE SEE IT FROM THE MOON WE REALIZE THERE IS ANOTHER DIMENSION AND SUDDENLY WE BECOME AWARE OF THE DESIGNER, THE PLANNER AND THE MANAGER.

THE ASTRONAUTS HAD A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE AND THEY SHARED IT WITH 600 MILLION PEOPLE WHO WERE WATCHING.

RELIGION IS A NATURAL VIRTUE.  IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN. ALL MEN OF ALL THIMES HAVE EXPERIENCED IT.THERE IS A RELIGIOUS SENSE IN MANKIND BECAUSE GOD HIMSELF PUT IT THERE. THE SPIRITUAL DYNAMIC OF MAN HAS NEVER BEEN ABLE TO BE SQUELCHED BECAUSE MAN HAS AN IMMORTAL SOUL.

THE GOD-INSTINCT IN US MAY LIE DORMANT FOR AWHILE BUT IN TIME OF CRISIS WE HEAR THE VOICE THAT MOSES HEARD AT THE BURNING BUSH: TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES. YOU ARE STANDING ON HOLY GROUND.

WHEN WE ARE PROSPEROUS; WHEN WE ARE SUCCESSFUL; WHEN EVERYTHING IS GOING OUR WAY WE HAVE THE FEELING OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY. WE ARE ON OUR OWN. WE ARE ALL THERE IS.

SUDDENLY, WITHOUT WARNING, AS IF FROM NOWHERE THE CORONAVIRUS JUMPS OUT AT US. WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS INVISIBLE ENEMY. WE DISCOVER THAT WE ARE NO LONGER IN CONTROL. INSTINCTIVELY WE REACH OUT TO THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE. THE GOD OF THE SUN AND THE MOON AND THE STARS—THE GOD OF TWO TRILLION GALAXIES.

KNOWING THAT THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE IS IN CHARGE BRINGS US CONSOLATION, BUT SOMEHOW IT DOES NOT ALWAYS BRING US PEACE.

MARY AND MARTHA THE SISTERS OF LAZARUS WERE FACING A CRISIS WHEN THEIR BROTHER DIED.  THEY WERE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS. THEY WERE LOOKING FOR PEACE. WHY DIDN’T JESUS COME RIGHT AWAY WHEN HE KNEW THAT LAZARUS WAS ILL? WHY DIDN’T HE PREVENT THE DEATH OF LAZARUS HIS FRIEND?

HE CURED THE BLIND MAN. HE MADE THE PARALYTIC WALK, HE RAISED THE WIDOW’S SON AND JAIRUS DAUGHTER. WHY COULDN’T HE DO SOMETHING FOR LAZARUS?

IN TIME OF CRISIS WE HAVE MANY QUESTIONS. WE ARE LOOKING FOR ANSWERS.WE WANT TO HEAR FROM SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY. SOMEONE WHO CAN UNDERSTAND OUR FEAR AND OUR EMOTIONS.  

THE SISTERS OF LAZARUS WERE OVERCOME WITH GRIEF.  AT THIS MOMENT IN THE GOSPEL WE SEE THE TENDER HUMANITY OF JESUS. THE GOSPEL SAYS: WHEN HE SAW THEIR GRIEF JESUS WEPT. EVEN THOUGH HE WAS THE SON OF GOD JESUS HAD HUMAN EMOTIONS. HE WAS ABLE TO SHARE THE DELIGHT OF HIS FRIENDSHIP WITH MARTHA AND MARY AND LAZARUS.  HE WAS ALSO ABLE TO SHARE THEIR DEEPEST PAIN. JESUS WEPT BECAUSE HE UNDERSTANDS OUR FEAR AND OUR EMOTIONS.

WE WANT SO MUCH TO UNDERSTAND THE HEART OF GOD. THE KEY TO THE HEART OF GOD IS THE INCARNATION OF THE SON OF GOD. GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE SENT HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM MAY HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. WHEN WE STUDY JESUS WE ARE LOOKING INTO THE HEART OF GOD.

THE FIRST THING MARTHA SAID WHEN SHE SAW JESUS WAS: LORD IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE MY BROTHER WOULD NEVER HAVE DIED. WHAT WAS JESUS RESPONSE? YOUR BROTHER WILL RISE AGAIN. JESUS KNEW WHAT HE WOULD DO. MARTHA STILL DID NOT UNDERSTAND. HER BROTHER WAS DEAD. WHY DID JESUS LET IT HAPPEN?

THE MOST POWERFUL MOMENT IN THIS CONVERSATION BETWEEN JESUS AND MARTHA IS WHEN JESUS TRIES TO TEACH MARTHA THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEMPORARY LIFE HERE AND ETERNAL LIFE HEREAFTER.

JESUS GIVES MARTHA THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THIS DIFFERENCE WHEN HE SAYS TO HER: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE, WHOEVER BELIEVES IN ME EVEN IF HE DIES, WILL LIVE. AND ANYONE WHO LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER DIE.”

JESUS IS SAYING TO MARTHA IN THE MOST GENTLE WAY THAT HE CAN: “MARTHA YOU HAVE TO TRUST ME. YOU HAVE TO TRUST IN MY POWER. YOU HAVE TO TRUST IN MY LOVE.

YOU KNOW SOMETHING. EVERY DAY WE ARE HEARING GOOD PEOPLE OF FAITH ATTEMPTING TO ANSWER THE QUESTION: HOW COULD A LOVING GOD ALLOW THE EVIL OF THE CORONAVIRUS? PEOPLE OF GOOD FAITH HAVE BEEN GIVING MANY GOOD ANSWERS BASED ON THE BIBLE AND COMMON SENSE. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN GIVING THOSE ANSWERS FOR CENTURIES. AND THEY ARE VALID.

MARTHA WANTS TO KNOW WHY HER BROTHER DIED AND WHAT JESUS IS GOING TO DO ABOUT IT. WHAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE OF THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO SUFFERING AND DEATH? THE BOTTOM LINE IS JESUS THE SON OF GOD. I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.

THE PASSION, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, IS THE ONLY SATISFACTORY ANSWER TO MARTHA’S QUESTION. MARTHA, TRUST ME. I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. I AM THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE. I AM THE LORD OF LIFE. YOU HAVE TO TRUST ME. JESUS SAYS THE SAME THING TO YOU AND TO ME: TRUST ME. I AM YOUR ONLY HOPE.

FOLLOWING THIS CONVERSATION WITH MARTHA AND MARY JESUS GOES TO THE TOMB WHERE LAZARUS HAS BEEN HELD FOR FOUR DAYS.

A GREAT CROWD OF PEOPLE WERE THERE BECAUSE THEY HEARD THAT JESUS WAS COMING. JESUS ORDERS THEM TO REMOVE THE STONE. HE SHOUTS OUT: LAZARUS COME OUT. TO THE AMAZEMENT OF EVERYONE LAZARUS WHO HAS BEEN BURIED FOR FOUR DAYS WALKS OUT OF THE TOMB. JESUS KEEPS HIS PROMISE. MARTHA WILL NEVER DOUBT HIM AGAIN.

IN A FEW WEEKS WE WILL BE CELEBRATING THE PROMISE THAT JESUS GAVE TO MARY AND MARTHA. I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.

IN OUR MORE HONEST MOMENTS WE KNOW THAT WE ARE GOING TO DIE. WE MAY NOT LIKE TO THINK ABOUT IT BUT WE KNOW IT IS A REALITY. THE ONLY FUTURE THAT WE HAVE IS THE PROMISE OF JESUS THAT HE WILL DELIVER RESURRECTION AND NEW LIFE.

WHAT JESUS IS SAYING TO MARY AND MARTHA AND LAZARUS AND THE JEWS AND ALL OF US IS THAT HE ALONE IS THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM OF EVIL IN THE WORLD. THERE IS NO OTHER.

JESUS IS THE ONLY PERSON WHO WALKED AWAY FROM HIS OWN GRAVE BY HIS OWN POWER. NO ONE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD HAS EVER DONE THAT BEFORE. CHRISTIANITY IS THE ONLY WORLD RELIGION WHOSE FOUNDER IS STILL ALIVE. CHRISTIANITY IS THE ONLY WORLD RELIGION THAT HAS AN ADEQUATE EXPLANATION OF THE AGE OLD PROBLEM OF EVIL.

DR. KARL STERN WAS A JEWISH PSYCHIATRIST. HE WAS A SURVIVOR OF THE HOLOCAUST. HE ESCAPED INTO CANADA WHERE HE TAUGHT AT THE MC GILL UNIVERSITY IN MONTREAL. DR. STERN WAS A CONVERT TO THE CATHOLIC FAITH. THIS IS HOW HE EXPLAINED HIS CONVERSION TO HIS BROTHER.

HE SAID THAT AFTER EXPERIENCING SUCH INCREDIBLE EVIL IN THE HOLOCAUST HE WAS LOOKING FOR SOME MEANING FOR THIS DIABOLICAL EVIL. HE WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO SUFFER THIS EVIL BUT HE WANTED TO KNOW THAT IT HAD SOME MEANING. HE COULD NOT ACCEPT THAT THERE WAS NO ANSWER.

DR. KARL STERN SAID THAT THE ONLY ADEQUATE MEANING THAT HE COULD FIND FOR THE EVIL THAT HE AND HIS FAMILY HAD SUFFERED WAS THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST. HE SAID IT FINALLY OCCURRED TO HIM THAT ALL OF THE EVIL IN THE WORLD FROM THE TIME OF THE FIRST MAN AND WOMAN HAD TO HAVE SOME PURPOSE. THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD GIVE IT MEANING AND VALUE WAS THE SON OF GOD.

AS HE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS FOR MANY YEARS IT MADE SENSE TO HIM THAT JESUS THE SON OF GOD WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD GIVE VALUE AND MEANING TO HUMAN SUFFERING. ON THE HILL OF CALVARY JESUS, LIKE A VORTEX TOOK UPON HIMSELF ALL THE SUFFERING OF MANKIND AND USED IT TO REDEEM THE HUMAN RACE FROM ORIGINAL SIN.

IN SOME MYSTERIOUS WAY JESUS BY HIS DEATH GAVE VALUE AND MEANING TO HUMAN SUFFERING. FOR DR. KARL STERN THE ONLY PLACE HE COULD FIND PEACE AFTER THE HOLOCAUST WAS IN THE CHRISTIAN EXPLANATION OF HUMAN PAIN AND DEATH.

CHRISTIANS FOR CENTURIES HAVE FOUND COMFORT AND CONSOLATION THAT SUFFERING IS NOT MEANINGLESS. IF GOD USED THE SUFFERING OF THE CROSS TO REDEEM THE HUMAN RACE THEN IN SOME MYSTERIOUS WAY SUFFERING AND PAIN MUST HAVE GREAT REDEMPTIVE VALUE.

A POEM BY ANNIE JOHNSON FLINT IS A POWERFUL EXPRESSION OF THE PEACE THAT A CHRISTIAN CAN FIND IN HUMAN SUFFERING.

ANNIE JOHNSON WROTE THIS POEM WITH KNARLED HANDS AND LIMBS IN A BODY WRACKED WITH PAIN. SHE SPENT MOST OF HER LIFE BATTLING DISEASE AND PAIN. STILL SHE COULD WRITE THIS.

HE GIVETH MORE GRACE AS OUR BURDENS GROW GREATER,
HE SENDETH MORE STRENGTH AS OUR LABORS INCREASE;
TO ADDED AFFLICTIONS HE ADDETH HIS MERCY,
TO MULTIPLIED TRIALS HE MULTIPLIES PEACE.

WHEN WE HAVE EXHAUSTED OUR STORE OF ENDURANCE,
WHEN OUR STRENGTH HAS FAILED ERE THE DAY IS HALF DONE,
WHEN WE REACH THE END OF OUR HOARDED RESOURCES
OUR FATHER’S FULL GIVING IS ONLY BEGUN.

FEAR NOT THAT THY NEED SHALL EXCEED HIS PROVISION,
OUR GOD EVER YEARNS HIS RESOURCES TO SHARE;
LEAN HARD ON THE ARM EVERLASTING, AVAILING;
THE FATHER BOTH THEE AND THY LOAD WILL UPBEAR.

HIS LOVE HAS NO LIMITS, HIS GRACE HAS NO MEASURE,
HIS POWER NO BOUNDARY KNOWN UNTO MEN;
FOR OUT OF HIS INFINITE RICHES IN JESUS
HE GIVETH, AND GIVETH, AND GIVETH AGAIN.