Well, it seems that winter has finally given up and spring is upon us. I am thankful to all those who volunteered to clean up our grounds during the snowfalls. Now we will soon be gearing up for lawn mowing. I am still looking for volunteers to assist us with this task. These services to the parish offer an opportunity to share time and talent with our parish. Maybe you see some other things that you might be able to do to save the parish money. Please let me know.
The St. Veronica PTA raised about $63,000 over the weekend with their 30th annual Gift Auction. Thanks to those for all their efforts!
I hope, when the weather gets better, to move the old green sign on Route 9 to the front of the church. I think it will make our church stand out a little better.
Right after Easter the three layers of roof on the church will be removed and a new roof will be placed. These costs will come from diocesan Sandy insurance money and so there will be no cost to the parish. I have requested, but have not gotten a reply, to sell the Spiritual Center so we can replace the old section of school roof ($110,000) and repair the leak on the stage. The Spiritual Center is not being used that much and I am fixing up another meeting room in the basement of the rectory to replace it. I think we may also have to replace the rectory roof ($50,000). After all this is done, I will look into possibly putting solar panels on these roofs. Our electric bills are an average of $6200 per month.
Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of bones outside of Jerusalem recalls the horrible defeat of the Israelites who lost all hope while in captivity in Babylon. God shows His glory to a discouraged people by promising that all the unburied bones of the defeated will come together again and be covered with flesh when they are once again joined to their immortal souls. This offers hope to a very discouraged people. God’s message to Ezekiel foreshadows the raising up of our dead bodies when God returns our souls to them at the end of time. At this time faith and hope will no longer be necessary because we will have the certitude of eternal life. We have much in common with the Israelites because right now we have to take this on faith and live in hope of the resurrection on the last day.
St. Paul reminds us of the power of Baptism. In Baptism, we became a temple of the Holy Spirit because sanctifying grace was poured into us for the first time. Few of us remember this event in our lives because most of us were baptized while we were infants. But our parents had us baptized so that they could begin our sanctifying journey with the promise of raising us as Catholics and thus giving us a head start whereby we were able to grow in holiness until we could continue the process ourselves. Symbolically we were washed with water that represented our death to this world and each time the priest or the deacon paused before pouring it again, we were raised again to a new life, one that would lead us into Eternal Life. While baptism could not make us a son or daughter of God because there is only one Son of God, it has made us adopted sons and daughters of God. Being adopted, we become heirs of God. In other words, if we can free ourselves from the slavery of sin, we will have the Holy Spirit within us. This is the same Holy Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead. It then follows that this same Spirit will raise us from the dead on the Last Day, restoring our souls to our glorified bodies.
The raising of Lazarus describes the engagement of all of Jesus’ personality. As a man Jesus wept over the loss of a friend, but as God, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus makes clear He is acting to manifest God’s love for our benefit. Jesus is also responding to the heartfelt faith of Martha and Mary, “Lord if you had been here my brother would never have died.” Even their faith is not crushed by death of Lazarus. They do not question His power to prevent death, but now they see a miracle that was totally unexpected.
At this time in history, it was held that after four days a dead body began to decay at a rapid rate. Here too at this point, like the impossibility of a man born blind having his sight restored, it was unheard of that a man could be restored to life. Jesus’ body never saw corruption because He was in the tomb for only three days.
Raising Lazarus from death strengthens the faith of the disciples and points to the promise of our resurrection. But something even more profound is happening. The raising of Lazarus is for God’s glory. This takes on a double meaning. Jesus will be glorified by the miracle and many come to believe. But the miracle will also bring about His death. The Sadducees were highly insulted because they held that there is no resurrection of the body. The Sanhedrin, the supreme authority of the Jews, felt that if Jesus should continue in His popularity, the Romans would destroy their nation, but the reality is that in their rejecting and killing Jesus, they caused the Romans to invade and destroy the Temple in 70 AD. Caiaphas, the high priest, was the head of the Jewish council and the chief teacher of Israel. Prophetically he states that Jesus will die for the salvation of the nation, but not for the reasons he thinks. Jesus will also cause the reunification of the entire people of God, Jews and Gentiles alike.