homily – March 9

John 11:1-45

A long gospel calls for a short sermon.

In spirit let’s be with those who gathered at the tomb of Lazarus. We are with Jesus, who wept at the death of his friend. We are with Martha and Mary and their friends and probably with a few curious people anxious to see what was going on. Jesus makes this strange request – take the stone away – open the tomb. The ever practical Martha says “not a good idea, he’s beginning to smell.” But Jesus insists, “take the stone away” and then He makes that chilling call, “Lazarus come out”. And he who was dead came out and Jesus tells them, “Unbind him and let him go free.”

Amazing. To see someone called back from the dead. What a wonder. But if we stop to think about it, every day of life we have the opportunity to call some one to life. Through our care, understanding, compassion, encouragement we may be able to call someone out of the deadly tombs of depression, discouragement, disappointment or despair. It may take just a few words, a phone call, and a card. Just enough to let someone know we are there for them.

I’d like to take another approach to this wonderful gospel. This past week on Monday and Wednesday evenings Dr. Dennis O’Hara led us in evening reflections titled ‘Critical Choices – Passion Responses Then and Now’. He took us back to the Passion of Jesus and the choice Jesus had to make to go on with his mission knowing that in doing so He would pay the price with His life. He then brought us to our time of crisis, our time of choice as we face the serious consequences of what is happening in our time – the reality of climate change.

Dennis used a lot of material from Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. To tell you the truth I found his first presentation overwhelming as we considered the future results of our present climate changes. The present results are frightening: melting glaciers and ice caps, spreading deserts, the loss of forests. What was even more distressing was the impact on those places in the planet that are undergoing these changes, mostly the underdeveloped areas of the world, especially Africa.

Here in Canada we have yet to feel the impact of climate change. We can complain about all the snow we’ve had this winter but it’s nothing compared to what other people are facing in other parts of the globe as their rivers and wells dry up and their lands can no longer grow food. We have to ask the question, ‘what kind of a planet are we leaving to future generations who will have to live with the consequences of our excesses’?

The frightening truth about climate change is that the very life systems of the planet are under assault. We can say that the Passion of Jesus is present in our time in the sufferings of humanity and in the destruction of our planet, St. Paul tells us that Christ is the first born of all creation and in Him all creation holds together. The pain of humanity is the pain of Christ and the pain of the planet is the pain of Christ.

This is a time of our crisis – we may not want to face it but it is not going to go away. You know while I was working on this sermon I came across an article on the Internet; the founder of the weather channel is suing Al Gore for fraud. He calls global warming the greatest scam in history claiming some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulate long term data to create an illusion of rapid global warming. Unbelievable. As I said, this is our time of crisis, denying it is not going to make it go away. Our critical choice today is; are we willing to make changes in how we live – how we consume – how we waste – how we conserve – that can help call the planet out of the tomb into which we are now placing it?

The whole thing is so complex. Not everyone is listening to, or even believes the inconvenient truth of the stress the planet is under. Unfortunately, Europe and North America have set a standard of living to which so many other nations strive: China, India, Latin America. But the planet cannot sustain a second North America; it is collapsing under the weight of such a demand.

Back to the song, ‘Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me’. Let there be life on earth and let it begin with me. Ours may be a weak voice but it is a voice nonetheless as each of us in our own way is willing to call the Earth back to life even as we call ourselves to live more lightly upon the Earth.