The story of Lazarus is a perfect prelude to next Sunday’s Gospel when we will hear the Passion; the greatest love story that’s ever been told. In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus knows He has to go to Judea because his friend Lazarus needs Him and He needs to prepare His followers for His own death. His disciples try to remind Him that the last time He was in Judea the crowd tried to stone Him to death. Jesus insists on going anyway, so Thomas says to the other disciples, “Let us also go to die with Him.” They fully expected that they would all be stoned to death that day as they returned to Judea. Little did they know that Jesus was about to teach them that death will not have the last word.
Martha runs out to welcome Jesus and is told that her brother will rise from the dead. She’s thinking, “Of course he’ll rise on the last day at the end of the world when all those who have died will rise.” Obviously, that’s not what Jesus was talking about. Martha tries to advise Jesus that rolling the stone away from the grave isn’t a good Idea because her brother has been dead for four days and there will be a terrible stench if they remove the stone. Jesus had to remind Martha to trust Him and assure her that she would not be disappointed. Before Jesus calls Lazarus from the grave He prays aloud to His Father and publicly gives His Father credit for what is about to happen. Then He asks those who are watching to assist Him when He says, “Remove the stone,” and “Unbind him and set him free.”
This powerful story offers us an opportunity to participate in the resurrection. Are we willing to remove the stones that hold others captive? Can we help unbind each other from whatever divides us so that together we can know the freedom of resurrection and new life as a community?
On this 5th Sunday of Lent we are drawing closer to the climax of our Lenten journey. Out of the depths of tsunamis, earthquakes, and nuclear threats; the depths of hunger and homelessness, famine and disease; the depths of wars, civil strife, and violence on our streets; and the depths of loss and fear, we cry, “Lord, hear our voice!” In our helplessness and tears, in our groans and sighs too deep for words, Christ meets us with hope and new life. St. Paul reminds us that Christ is in Us and the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us. He calls to us, “Come forth and believe that I am the resurrection. Come forth to mercy and fullness of life. Come forth to hope and let me set you free.”
—Sister Jean MaherBack to top