Scripture Reading: John 11:1-45
The unexpected death of a loved one brings unimagined grief and pain. Death brings tears, even anger. The Gospel reading is about the death and restoration to life of Lazarus, ‘the one whom Jesus loved’. It is the last of the seven ‘signs’ in John’s ‘book of signs’ that reveal the ‘glory’ of God. It is the greatest of Jesus’ signs. It functions as a catalyst for the events that led to his death: ‘…from that day on they planned to put him to death’ (11:53). If we look carefully at today’s gospel, we recognise how grief can blind us to the possibility of life. Darkness can overwhelm us and almost extinguish the light of faith and hope. We see the extent to which an atmosphere of fear, pain, and misunderstanding can obscure the identity of Jesus, even for his friends. In the death of Lazarus, Jesus sees his own death prefigured. The tears that Jesus sheds at the tomb of Lazarus prefigure the dark moments of self-consecration in the garden of Gethsemane. They express the cost of obedience to the Father’s will and a deep sense of compassion. The context for the story of the raising of Lazarus is the Jewish leaders’ growing animosity toward Jesus. Into this scene of confrontation, Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, send word to Jesus that his friend is ill. Jesus is said to love Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but he delays his journey for two days. The delay heightens the drama and shows Jesus’ obedience to God, who is to be glorified through Lazarus’s resurrection. When Jesus finally declares that He will journey to Bethany, His Disciples feared for His life.
Jesus asked to be brought to Lazarus’s tomb where He prayed and called Lazarus out from the tomb. At this sign, many come to believe in Jesus, but others take word of the miracle to the Jewish authorities, who began their plans for Jesus’ death. In raising Lazarus, Jesus manifested His power over death so that when Jesus dies, those who believe in Him might remember that and take hope. Just as Jesus calls for the stone to be rolled away from Lazarus’s tomb, so too will the disciples find the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. The Gospel today calls us to reflect on Baptism as a dying and rising with Jesus. In Baptism we die to sin’s power over us, rising as children of God. In Baptism we join ourselves with Christ, who conquered death once and for all so that we who believe in Him may have eternal life. With Martha and Mary, we are called to profess our belief that Jesus is indeed the Resurrection and the Life.
MASS: VIOLET Ezk 37: 12-14; Ps 130: 1-2. 3-4. 5-7a. 7b-8 (R.7b); Rom 8: 8-11; Accl. 11:25a.26; Jn 11: 1-45. Otherwise: Jer 31: 31-34; Ps 51: 3-4. 12-13. 14-15 (R.12a); Heb 5: 7-9; Accl. Jn 12:26; Jn 12: 20-33 FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT.
1. Ask for God’s mercy for the times we have display unbelief in words and action
2. Pray that in difficult moments we may not lose faith in Jesus