Fifth Sunday of Lent, 2023
Jesus cried out in loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”
This powerful gospel near the end of our Lenten season is a hint of Easter’s glory in the One who is the Resurrection and the Life, Jesus the Lord. It is the same One, who in the Bible’s shortest verse, wept at the sight of the grief shared by his close friends, Mary and Martha. But there is also in today’s gospel a commission given to all the disciples of Jesus, and certainly to those associated with the work of Catholic Charities – “Untie them and let them go!”
Like Lazarus, there are so many among us who are tied hand and foot and whose faces are wrapped and hidden in cloth. Think of those bound by addictions, poverty, mental illness, prison bars, the experience of having been trafficked, the horrific memories of persecution in homelands they have fled, fears in facing an untimely pregnancy or of being deported, to name a few. These and so many other vulnerable lives often have faces wrapped and hidden in a cloth of guilt, shame, hopelessness and despair.
It is these entombed lives we encounter in our Catholic Charities work, whether as staff or volunteers; and to us Jesus now says: “Untie them and let them go!” It is through the combination of our compassion, skills, and services that we seek to free and bring new life to these fragile and suffering children of God. In so doing, we also give a hint of Easter’s glory and tangible credibility to our Easter proclamation that Jesus is truly the Resurrection and the Life!
Deacon Lucio Caruso served in Catholic Charities agencies for 20 years and is currently Pastoral Administrator for a multi-cultured parish in Louisville, KY.