5th Sunday of Lent (A)           
April 10, 2011

Life that is more than just life ... new life, to be exact; life that will never end; life that can accrue even from death, whether material or spiritual ... This is the good news of today ... good news that cannot be ignored or made light of!

The whole world smacks of all that is not life nowadays ... even now strife and rebellion, legitimate in many cases, are taking place in many countries all at one and the same time.  Leaders who have been enjoying worldly life and all its perks for decades, simply refuse to give up power, position, perks, and perch.

Reluctant migrants scamper out of Libya, Yemen, Ivory Coast and other countries precisely in search of a life that is unhampered, untrammeled by personal agendas of leaders who, in the first place, are not life enabling, but life disabling.

People are entombed for many reasons, under many forms, and countless guises. Ignorance buries so many of our countrymen, blinded by the propaganda of powerful governments and rich pharmaceutical companies,  convinced in their mistaken and misguided belief that the only and exclusive reason for massive poverty in the Philippines is overpopulation.

People lie half dead not caring anymore for a country awash in corruption that really is among the primary reasons why the Philippines and many third world countries remain poor. But so many are buried under the avalanche of the propaganda of mainstream media paid for, no doubt, by the very pharmaceutical companies that will sure earn huge sums for decades to come, with a little help from politicians who stand to receive sizeable emoluments for their support, sitting in a form of blindness that is worse than that of the man born blind of last week's gospel passage.

We are awash in a culture that is life disabling, in the long run, although proponents always claim they are the real pro-life, by twisting the teachings of the Church, and calling themselves "pro-quality life." What quality are we talking of here, when innocent lives are going to be snuffed out in the first place? Whose quality? Whose life? Whose benefit?

Pope John Paul II, of happy and blessed memory, who will soon be beatified, was right. So many decades ago, he already knew what was coming - a culture of death, that is at the bottom of so many mistaken ideas like this perverse, twisted and selfish idea of "pro quality life."

Today, the good news is unmistakably both good and fresh and life-giving.  The first reading from Ezekiel oozes with hope - hope that can only come from a God who desires life, not death, for His people. This life that Ezekiel speaks about is not just a restoration of something that was lost. It is also a vision and a promise that He will bring us back to "the land of Israel," a figure of the land from which salvation comes. This is the good news that God has the desire and the power to make life even out of death, to make us "rise" from our tombs, and make us "settle" in our land.

But God's vision and promise ought to be our desire, too. God needs a little help from us, and it starts by our own desire for life, not death. It starts with our own efforts at doing what St. Paul counsels us, who live in the shadow of death - to leave behind life "in the flesh" and pursue one "in the Spirit."

Life in the flesh is to be focused on sordid gain, and not much else. Why would organized and well-funded so-called "philanthropists" work and pay their way through to rid the world of unwanted people especially from the ranks of the great unwashed? Why would foreign governments strive to impose their idea of what prosperous and quality life is on people in other sovereign countries and usurp the dignity of couples to decide and plan their family lives for themselves? Why would local governments blindly follow such grand designs for "quality of life" for those who live now, and allow themselves to deny the "life" plain and simple, of all those who have not seen the light of day? Why would people so selfishly focus on their quality of life, and deny basic life to those who, in their twisted logic, do not deserve it?

This is darkness. This is blindness. This is plain and simple SIN. This is the drama of Eden coming to the fore again, the drama of denial, the drama of escape, and hiding, the drama of finger pointing, and the drama of denial of self-responsibility. Where politicians earn unjustly more than their salaries can warrant, where AFP generals can, in a few short years, quietly stash away hundreds of millions, and still feel clean and go away scot free with endless denials and stonewalling, with a little help from their equally mendacious wives and other relatives and friends, why would we be so concerned about rivals coming from the unborn and those who should not be born, who would stand to rob us of our own "quality of life?"

Today, part of the good news is the realization that Jesus weeps for us, and cries with us, and is one with us who suffer, who feel lost in the welter of so many contrasting and conflicting value systems that all speak about life, but not the life that the gospel speaks of.

We need to look closely at what life this is all about. And Martha, for all her busy-body attitude, might have understood it a little better than we do. She knew, that, first, "had he been there, her brother would not have died." Second, she knew that '"whatever He would ask of God, He would grant it." She knew too, that her brother "would rise , in the resurrection on the last day." But what she did not know was the big surprise that God was and is, a God of life, there and then ... here and now.

After the Lord has walked her through, - through her ignorance, tears, sorrow, and grief, Martha knew much more, much, much more. But by then, it was not just a matter of knowing ... It became a matter of faith: ""Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world."

With so many voices nowadays claiming to be "pro-quality life," with so many more claiming to be at the service of life by snuffing out innocent life, or preventing their ever coming to see the light, we are in for a big surprise ... No one does it better than God, who is the author of life. No one ... not the big pharmaceutical companies ... not this government given in to and enslaved almost by surveys (to the point of contesting what does not suit their fancies and expectations, but accepting whatever is favorable to them), not the so-called big philanthropists who feel threatened by more people, not their governments who follow extreme capitalist ideologies and espouse materialist and hedonist philosophies. No one does it better than He who died and gave Himself "that we might have life ... life in its fullness."