MARCH 29, 2020 FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT (Lec. 34)
1) Ezekiel 37:12-14
2) Romans 8:8-11
3) John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45
Gospel related: CCC 439, 472, 581, 627, 640, 993, 994, 1001, 2604
FOCUS: We have faith in Christ, who is the Resurrection and the Life.
Today’s Gospel reading is filled with scenes of human frailties. First, in Bethany, we encounter the suffering surrounding a dying man. Lazarus is ill, and his sisters Martha and Mary are concerned about him and send a message to their friend, Jesus. The Scripture does not say that they asked Jesus to come, or that they asked him to cure their brother. Scripture tells us only that the message said, Master, the one you love is ill.
Second, we see threats to human safety. When Jesus announces plans to go back to Judea, where they had recently been, his disciples question his intentions, for the Jews in Judea had tried to stone him. But Jesus explained that Lazarus had died, and that they must go.
Third, we see people mourning someone they loved. We see Martha and Mary lamenting the loss of their brother, and we see Jewish people from neighboring towns who have come to comfort the two sisters. We even see Jesus, true God and true Man, filled with emotion, weeping at the loss of his friend.
Finally, we see confusion and misunderstanding. The disciples do not fully understand Christ’s mission, and even Thomas’ bold comment, Let us also go to die with him, is well-meaning, if naïve. Jesus had also waited a few days before returning. He knows that this suffering will not end in death, but will simply be used for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. But Mary and Martha do not know this, and they bemoan his absence.
All of this human frailty – apparent in this story, and familiar to our own lives. But what changes all of it? Faith! Martha proclaims that she has come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world. The Apostles and others hear Jesus say that he is the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me even if he dies, will live. Jesus has faith that the Father will hear him, so he calls Lazarus to come out. Christ raises his friend from the dead. Those who were present come to believe in him, too. All this human suffering was turned around because of faith. Faith convinces us of Christ’s victory over death. Faith in the Resurrection rests on faith in God who is God of the Living (CCC 993). Today’s Gospel is not just about Lazarus’ resurrection, it’s about ours. Likewise, all our human suffering, losses and doubts are reimagined in light of our faith in Christ. This profound faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and Paul reminds us that the Spirit lives in us. With him, we can overcome anything, even death itself. The tomb is empty. Our hearts are full.