LENT V (A)
See how he loved him. – John 11: 36
Each of today’s readings brings home the truth that love is stronger than death. Here are some illustrations of just how that might be:
Karen & her husband decided to help their three year old son Michael prepare for having a baby sister in the house, so day after day & night after night they would gather Michael in their arms & let him sing “You are my sunshine,” the only song he knows, to his sister in mommy’s tummy. When the time came for delivery, there were complications, & when the baby is finally born, she is in serious condition.
The days inch by & the little girl gets worse. The doctor advised the parents “There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst.” They begin to plan for a funeral, but Michael keeps begging his parents to let him see his sister. “I want to sing to her,” he says. However, children are not allowed in the ICU. Finally, Karen decides that if Michael does not see his sister now, he may never see her alive.
When the head nurse saw him she bellowed “Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed!” Usually mild mannered, Karen stares steely-eyed into the nurse’s face & says, “He’s not leaving until he sings to his sister!” With that, she tows him to his sister’s bedside & he begins to sing. Instantly, the baby girl responds. Her pulse rate becomes calm & steady. Her breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten’s purr. Michael’s little sister relaxes as healing rest seems to sweep over her. Funeral plans are scrapped. The very next day the little girl is well enough to go home.
In an article about this incident, Woman’s Day magazine called it “the miracle of a brother’s song.” Karen called it a miracle of God’s love. The medical staff simply called it a miracle. One could call it the Lazarus story all over again. Love is stronger than death.
Some years ago, then Vice-President George Bush spoke at a prayer breakfast. He told of his trip to Russia to represent the United States at the funeral of Leonid Brezhnev. The funeral was as precise & stoic as the communist regime. No tears were seen & no emotion displayed – with one exception. Brezhnev’s widow was the last person to see the body before the coffin was closed. In atheistic, communist Russia, she reached down & traced the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. In the hour of her husband’s death, she went not to Lenin, nor Karl Marx, nor Khrushchev. Instead, she turned to a Nazarene carpenter who had lived two thousand years ago, a man who had dared to cry out, “Lazarus, come forth!”
Finally, there was a teacher of brain-injured children, who really did a lot of wonderful things with them. On one occasion, she had her class stage a production of My Fair Lady. She gave the lead role to a little girl in a wheelchair. The audience wept when she rolled herself across the stage singing, “I could have danced all night.”
“Did I not say that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” These stories hearken back to something Jesus said: “If you, evil as you are, can give good things to those who ask you, how much more your heavenly Father?” In other words, these true stories make credible the Lazarus story.
A little boy’s song that brought his sister back to life; Brezhnev’s widow marking the sign of the cross on her husband in a country that has outlawed religion; a crippled girl who innocently sang about dancing all night: if these things can happen on a mere human level, then how much more so with God? Michael’s song becomes Jesus’ song raised to new heights. The widow’s faith becomes Jesus’: “whoever believes in me will never die.” The crippled girls’ song becomes Jesus’ promise that we will all dance all night. Why is all this possible? The crowd had it right when they observed of Jesus, “See how he loved him.” AMEN!