4-7-2019 5th Sunday of Lent
Apr 10, 2019
Lent V / B / A / 2018 / Raising of Lazarus
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
For the last two weeks we have been reading from the Gospel of John—important readings directed to our Catechumens (Elect) and candidates who will receive the Easter sacraments, but directed also to us who will renew our baptismal promises.
The readings move in a kind of crescendo, from the lesser to the greater. 1) First, the Woman at the Well: we are thirsty, and Jesus is the Living Water. 2) Second, the Man Born Blind: we are blind, and Jesus is the Light. And 3) today, the Raising of Lazarus: we are dead, and Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.
From thirsty, blind, even dead—metaphors for our spiritual life.
And we are powerless to help or heal ourselves. Our culture would tell us something different—that we are self-reliant, we can do it ourselves, the self-made man or woman. In fact, we can’t do it ourselves. Christianity tells us that we need help, we need a Savior. And that Savior is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world—whose power can even raise the dead.
And the really dead! In our Gospel today, Lazarus has been in the tomb four days—John’s way of saying that even the most-deadly sins can be forgiven.
When Jesus stands face to face with these deadly sins, the Gospel says, "He became perturbed and deeply troubled"—so troubled that "Jesus wept." Here we meet the human Jesus, the Jesus who entered fully into our human experience.
But there is more to it than that. At a deeper level—there is always a deeper level in John’s Gospel—Jesus is perturbed at death itself.
Because God is the God of life! Everything Jesus said and did in the Gospel is FOR LIFE. In the great cosmic battle of good and evil, death is the supreme enemy, and Jesus has come as Savior—to face death and to free us from this age-old foe.
So Jesus stands before the tomb and cries out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" I try to imagine the power in the voice—the voice of God that is always effective, the voice of the creator God that said, "Let there be Light" and there was light.
Lazarus comes out of the tomb—"tied hand and foot"—and Jesus, the Savior, speaks the words we long to hear: "Untie him, and let him go."
All of us, to one degree or another, are spiritually dead—in the tomb for a short time or even a long time. But no matter how dead we are, the voice of Jesus calls us out—from death to life.
The voice of Jesus . . . the Resurrection and the Life.