Sunday, April 6, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker 

The centerpiece for the Lenten journey for our elect is experienced on the third through the fifth Sundays of Lent in the celebration of the scrutinies.

The probing Gospels related to the woman at the well, the healing of the man born blind and now the raising of Lazarus from the dead invite us to appreciate many things in our faith. We are led to the Easter baptismal waters to find the life that Jesus speaks of, welling up within us and giving eternal life (“if you knew the gift of God, he would have given you living water”).

We are given the example of blindness that leads to seeing and seeing that is really blind. Ultimately, Jesus is offering us the gift of real vision (“Do you believe in the Son of Man? You have seen him”).

But now, in the story of the raising of Lazarus, we understand that as Jesus draws closer to his own death, it is really all about giving life, being raised up (“this illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God”).

In the scrutinizing of their lives, the elect seek to drive out evil and its influence from their lives. And through the laying on of hands to receive the Spirit of God and God’s protective love, they will be ready, open, alert and receptive to grace at the paschal celebrations.

The vigil of Easter is the celebration of light, water, salvation, new life, spirit, grace and rebirth. This night is their night, and it is our night. This night tells the whole story of salvation and invites us into an appreciation of who we are and who we have become in Christ Jesus – "the one who has been raised up."

All that has happened to us and for us and for the glory of God to be revealed. But it is not just life and new life that we receive. It is also freedom from the power of enslaving sin and death. It is also to be freed from the many things and powers that bind us, that "tie us up" and restrict us from being the grace-filled and free people of God we have been invited to become.

Jesus’ command is the ultimate command of liberation: “Untie them and let them go (free)!”

Do we experience grace freeing us from the enslavement to sin? How? When? Where?

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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