By Sister Agnesine Seluzicki, MHSH
On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, you are invited to join with the adults who are preparing for baptism to reflect deeply on the call to faith that God extends to all of us. To do this, the Church focuses on episodes taken from the Gospel of St. John. This is a gospel of signs and requires us to enter with a pondering stance to uncover the profound meaning of what is taking place.
On the previous two Sundays, we have already seen the coming to initial faith by the Samaritan woman at the well and the growth of faith in the man born blind as he comes to proclaim, “I do believe, Lord.” In this Sunday’s gospel, through the raising of Lazarus from the dead, we receive a glimpse of the deepening of faith that comes from the experience of death. [Jn.11:1-45]
A message comes to Jesus from Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, stating, “Master, the one you love is ill.” But, by the time Jesus arrives at their home, Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days.
Mary and Martha already believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that their brother will participate in the resurrection on the last day, but they give evidence of still lingering doubts.
“If you had been there, my brother would not have died,” Mary cries as she falls at Jesus’ feet. And, when Jesus asks that the stone be taken away from across the tomb, Martha replies, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”
The gospel states that Jesus wept. Death was not in God’s original plan. At Jesus’ cry, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus came out, tied “hand and foot with burial bands….” Jesus said, “Untie him and let him go.”
It is at the resurrection that Jesus rises to new life, eternal life, never to die again. He leaves his burial wrappings behind. He has conquered death. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the Life.” It is in this bold message that we can meet the unique challenge of our own death.
We began Lent with the reminder that we will return to dust. We will end at Easter with the proclamation of NEW LIFE.