Fifth Sunday of Lent, year A.

Ezekiel 37:12-14. Psalm 129. Romans 8:8-11. John 11:1-45.

Today’s readings are nothing less than triumphant. There are still two weeks to go until the great feast of Easter and yet today, all of our readings point to the Resurrection. Not the Resurrection of Christ, but to the Resurrection that he’s won for us on Calvary and by his glorious resurrection. They also reinforce something that I preached on a while ago; the indivisibility of the human and the divine.

I have said many times that the season of Lent is THE opportunity in the Church’s year to walk with our Saviour as a man. To walk with him to Calvary in solidarity, to accompany him as a fellow human, ill-used and unjustly condemned, and to help carry his cross as we recognise our failure in his hurt and stumbling. But above all, we walk with him as our friend. And yet, as we watch our friend in his Passion, we realise that this is all for us. Why? Because the love that the Father has for us overspills in Christ. The human and the divine join in a way like no other and this is what we find in our readings today.

We don’t have to look far either, it’s all pretty much on the surface. In Ezekiel, God promises not only to raise us, but also to put his Spirit in us and settle us ‘on our own soil’; or perhaps in other words, to allow us the freedom to be who we are meant, and want, to be. Our psalm responds beautifully; ‘If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive? But with you is found forgiveness’. Not forgiveness because we deserve it but the forgiveness that Christ has won for us, total and absolute forgiveness.

In our second reading, Paul says it like it is; ’the Spirit of God has made his home in you’. The human and the divine are joined. Yes, as we walk with our friend to Golgotha, we are moving ever closer to the unity of God and humankind.

This, of course, is evident throughout the ministry of Jesus. And in todays Gospel reading we have, in my opinion, one of the most profound sentences to be found anywhere in Holy Scripture;

‘Jesus said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from the heart’.

 What did that sigh contain? Did it contain every single one of our names? Did the endless mercy and compassion of God flow from that single sigh? Was it at this point that our Salvation was assured? Through the humanity of Christ spills forth the divine, touching each one of us to leave us changed; changed through the gift of Hope.

We are in times that we hoped we would never have to live through, but it is this gift of Hope, offered through the unity of God and humanity, that can lighten the darkness. More than that, it is a gift that we can share with, and pass on to, others.

This is the God we worship. A God who intimately knows what it is to be human, not because he created us, but because he walked with us. A God who won for us our freedom, our dignity, and our Salvation. A God who loves us more deeply than we can ever contemplate. And above all, the sure Hope that whatever happens, God is with us, now and always.

With my love and prayers for you all, may God bless you richly. Deacon Anthony