On the 5th Sunday of Lent, the Diocese of Raleigh streamed Masses in English and Spanish from Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. Watch the Masses and read or watch Bishop Zarama's homily below.
Bishop Zarama's homily
“Help each other untie our hearts ... express our concern, love for each other”
Homily by Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama on the Fifth Sunday of Lent: John 11:1-45
Streamed live from the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, N.C., March 29, 2020
by Anna Rzewnicki, Holy Cross Communications & Garden Coordinator
“Good morning, to everyone who is watching this Mass and to us who are here,” said Bishop Luis as he began his homily. He was preaching on the message of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the tomb, in which Lazarus had been laying for four days.
When an echo in the mostly empty cathedral interrupted Bishop Luis, he used that minor disruption as a starting point for his unscripted homily. The following is a transcript of his message.
It’s very interesting to be here and see that when we speak and when we hear the readings, there’s an echo. Usually, when the church is packed, you don’t hear that.... What does it mean, when we have an echo? It’s how the Word of God is looking to go out and reach our hearts ... to approach us. And I think today, the Gospel that we hear, is the perfect Gospel, speaking about our own reality, right now, in our own lives.
We can say, we have been praying to the Lord to help us. For how long more, Lord? But when Jesus got the word that his friend, which he loved, was sick, he stayed two days more in Bethany. He didn’t go, didn’t answer immediately. He waited.
And the Lord is waiting. The Lord is giving us this time of grace. This time of grace, for what? To see what is important for us in our lives. What really is important for us in our lives? We don’t have control, almost for nothing. That is the first reality that we have found in this time. Orders from the government limit us, how far we can go. We don’t like it, but we need to do that. Why? Because of a concern for the well-being of our brothers and sisters. None of us likes to be sick. We don’t like to make another person sick, and we need to accept that.
And that may be why the Lord is waiting to help us, because He has a plan. He has a plan for us. And during this time that we are living, something different is happening in our homilies, in our own lives. And that is the beauty of the Gospel, when Jesus says, ‘Remove the rock from the tomb.’ And He gives the order to Lazarus to stand up, to rise. That is what he is doing with us, He is trying to remove the rock, and that will enable us to see with true clarity, the true clarity of life and the true peace that all of us will have, that is, the peace of love and how that love can be shared.
When Jesus raised up Lazarus from the tomb, what is the order that He gave to the people? Remove the binds that tied the body of Lazarus. Make him be free. And that is the mission for us, when we spend time now at home ... to help each other, to make our hearts free. To be able to share the beauty of love, to know each other, and to enjoy the presence of each other.
We have a pandemic that makes us afraid, but in the middle of all of this, we have the vaccine that is needed: It is helping each other. It’s opening our hearts. If we listen to the Word at the Sunday Mass, ‘Wake Up.’ And between each other, we can enable each other to share love, to share life, and to enjoy the company of each other.
Sometimes, maybe for many families, the table is empty. Maybe you don’t use that because there’s no time to use the table to share a meal, because everyone is in a hurry. But now something changed, and the table at home has a meaning.
For many times and many years, maybe there was an echo, an empty table, like in this church today here. Waiting, that table, to have a use. And the Lord is asking us, remove the binds, to make us able to move, to be free to sit down around the table, and listen, talk, laugh, cry together and find life.
There’s a beautiful line in the Gospel today; the Lord says, ‘This illness will be used for the glory of God. This illness will not end in death.’ It’s exactly what he’s saying to us today, in the middle of Lent, in the middle of all that we are living because of the virus. This is not ending in death. This time of grace, the purpose is to see there is something beyond, and the something beyond is to find the treasure of your own family. Use again the table at home, and the food that you eat at home, you will find, really tastes the best. Why? Because it is prepared with love. And it has a place where it is served, and that is at the table.
We need to use this time of grace. Yes, we have concerns about the virus, but see what a beautiful gift the Lord is giving to all of us. There is a priority, and the priority is, by force, we are learning that it is love. It’s not money, it’s love. It’s not money, it’s the people, it’s the family. It’s the treasure that you have, and the Lord is giving us a time to enjoy each other.
He does not delay His coming to help us. He is giving us this opportunity to find him, to answer his call, to approach him, and the echoes of this news, of the good news of the Lord, can find the heart to receive God.
We need to say there is hope. Look in the good news of the Gospel. ‘This illness will not end in death.’ This illness will serve to show the glory of God ... to taste now the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of his love, and that is what’s happening, now right now, little by little, as we help each other untie our hearts and them be free, to express our concern, our love for each other. We ... give thanks to the Lord for the opportunity to become free, to receive his Gospel, and to put into practice in our own families the joy of serving each other.
This text was lightly edited during transcription, for clarity.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.