April 2, 2017 - Light and Life from Darkness and Death
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to Jesus saying, "Master, the one you love is ill." When Jesus heard this, he said, "This illness does not end in death; but it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus 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 the 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 has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all saved." Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. Then Jesus told them clearly, "Lazarus has died. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world." When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews, who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt 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 came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Untie him, and let him go."
Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that you give us only what is good and that you are paternally guiding us home to you. I trust in your mercy and love. In return I offer you my love, though it is so weak and stained by my egotism. Here I am, Lord, ready to listen to you and to respond with all my heart.
Petition: Inspire me, Lord, by your love, and guide me by your example.
1. "This Illness Does Not End in Death; but It Is for God's Glory…" - God draws good from apparent evil. Physical illness leading to the death of the body is the remains, so to speak, of original sin. Christ comes to destroy death at its root: by destroying sin, he also destroys death. Yet he does this precisely by suffering and dying himself – by embracing death. What was previously the ultimate penalty for disobedience to God becomes, because of Christ, the moment of birth into eternal life with God. Am I able to give this Christian meaning to death, and thus be peaceful about it, despite the pain?
2. "I Am the Resurrection and the Life." - Death is an oppressive reality, whether it be the death of a loved one or the prospect of our own passing. But when we look at Christ, we see the resurrection and life behind the darkness of death. If we truly believe that Christ is the resurrection and the life, we become a sign of hope for others. We become living signs of hope in a world that seems shrouded in so much darkness. Is Christ really my resurrection and life? Does my hope in him bring resurrection and life to those who need it?
3. "Jesus Began to Weep." - Why did Jesus weep? There have been many attempts to answer this question throughout the ages. Jesus' tears at the death of his friend, Lazarus, show us the true humanity of his heart. Indeed, the Lord has a truly human heart. He loves us with that heart. He participates in all our joys and sorrows. He truly takes no pleasure in our suffering or death. On the contrary, he wishes to heal us and keep us from pain. But Our Lord permits these in our life to heal our soul and free it from any attachment to the goods of this life. He allows us to be sorrowful now so he can fill us with eternal joy later. Sometimes we fail to appreciate this reality. Do I relate to Christ as he truly is – true man and true God –, or do I see him as being distant and detached from my life?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, let me come to you! In the world there is darkness and obscurity, but you are the light. You are the light of the world. Whoever follows you will never walk in darkness. Lord, light my way!
Resolution: Today I will be a sign of hope, of resurrection and life to others.