5th Sunday of Lent
Sunday, March 29, 2020
5th Sunday of Lent
First reading: Ez. 37:12-14
Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.
Second reading: Rom. 8:8-11
Brothers and sisters: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.
Gospel: Jn. 11:1-45
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
In other words Fr. Sonny de Rivera, SVD (Rome)
“I have to be here, I walk with you.”
During Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines he went to the city of Tacloban, a city devastated by Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in history. “I would like to tell you something close to my heart,” the pope said as many in the crowd clutched crucifixes and cried. “When I saw in Rome that catastrophe, I felt I had to be here. And on those very days, I decided to come here. I’m here to be with you. Some of you have lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silent. And I walk with you all with my silent heart,” he said. (The Guardian)
In our gospel reading we see Jesus assuring Mary and Martha, who are mourning the death of their brother Lazarus: “I walk with you, I am here.” But Jesus is far from glad at the suffering of his friends in Bethany. As Mary and Martha mourn for Lazarus they openly rebuke him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” This is a familiar refrain in our hearts when confronted with irreconcilable events and sufferings in the world. We echo even more our disappointment as our suffering grows closer to us. We have often consciously commented, “If God was real, these tragedies would not exist.”
What we learn from Mary and Martha is their faith in Jesus even in their grief. They experienced a very personal Christ who mourned at their suffering. Jesus becomes visibly “perturbed and troubled,” and then weeps at the sight of the mourning friends and family of His friend—despite knowing that Lazarus will soon rise and joy will return to their faces.
How often have we felt that Jesus assures us, “I have to be here, I will walk with you?” Like Mary’s and Martha’s experience we are reminded that before and after us, in our midst and in the sidelines of life, we do not have a distant and imperious God. This gospel passage reveals God as personal, as friend and family. We should feel confident that Jesus also weeps for us in our mourning, in our fallen state and fallen world. Pope Francis reminds us that as children of God, we must also weep at the suffering and mourning of others, and do what we can to ease it, especially when it seems most senseless.
After He weeps, Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb. This was His last miracle, a sign of what will come for all of us who believe—when weeping and mourning will cease, and we come to everlasting life with the Lord. In our occasional lack of confidence and trust in God let us come out of our tombs and consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Rom. 8:18)
Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word