Lazarus, the Resurrection and the Love of Jesus
This Sunday we hear the familiar story of the resurrection of Lazarus. Why are we reading the story of the raising of Lazarus today? What is its significance for us in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic and the last Sunday of Lent?
Some of the answers I came across while preparing this message were:
• It gives us hope in the face of death
• It reminds us of our baptisms and our own journey from death to life
• It tells us that death is not the end
• It proves that Jesus is the Messiah and that by faith in Him we have
• It shows that Jesus has power over death
All of these things may be true, but I would suggest to you that none of them are the reason for the narrative of the raising of Lazarus in John’s Gospel. The reason that John includes it in his gospel and the reason why we listen to it on the last Sunday in Lent is to prepare us for what is about to happen during Holy Week and to help us to understand why Jesus, though his love, offers up his life for us. By raising Lazarus from the dead Jesus angers the Pharisees and sets in motion the chain of events that leads to his death on the cross on Good Friday. For it is only by the great sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that our sins are forgiven and we are brought back into right relationship with God. Without the "Cross", there would be no "Resurrection" and no "Salvation"!
But there is something else in today's Gospel reading that I think we should all take to heart in the midst of these troubled times. The Gospel stated twice that Jesus wept. He weeps over Jerusalem and he weeps at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. The Jews remark: "See how he loved him!" (John 11:36) To weep is both fully human and fully divine. He loved and that is why he could weep. Think about how much he loves us today in the midst of this great suffering. Jesus is not insensitive to our worry and our grief. He is not indifferent to our struggle and not immune to our pain. Death is not a condition that God desires for us. Rather, God wants us to have life. Christ brings Lazarus back to life, he desires the same for all of us.
I encourage you to remind yourself of Isaiah 43:2 during this time: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you." Know that God is with you today.
In conclusion, I'll leave you with a question that Bishop Robert Barron asked the other day when asked how should a Catholic respond to the coronavirus pandemic: "What is the opportunity to love that has been opened up to me by this moment?"
God bless you folks, Father Gerard.
P.S. Any requests for prayers or any other help that myself or the parish can provide can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org