BILINGUAL REFLECTIONS FOR SUNDAY
Fifth Sunday of Lent (A) John 11:1-45 April 10, 2011
“I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”
Once, a patient who was under psychiatric treatment, asked his doctor what he should do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on. He thought that the psychiatrist was going to respond, "Call me immediately." Instead, he said, "Go out and find somebody in trouble and help that person." If you are in pain and see someone who is suffering even more, the consolation you give to that person helps both. When you go to a wake or a funeral to be with somebody who is mourning a dear one, just your presence is a real spiritual and psychological help for your friend. Shakespeare wrote in one of his works, “A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved”.
The Lazarus story tells us that Jesus did not like death. He wept at the grave of his friend. Jesus is the Lord of life and not of death. He came to do battle with death and destroyed it. Ezekiel today gives us this good news from God. "I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel".
In today's readings we are in front of death. The first reading shows us the Prophet Ezekiel contemplating a valley of dry bones, and in the Gospel we see Jesus standing before the grave of his friend Lazarus. Neither were too pretty sights. The dry bones represented the people of Israel, in the exile, paying for their own sins. Before God could raise them up, they had to convert and went back to the Lord. Lazarus, beloved by the Lord, now lay four days in the grave. As his sister, Martha, said, "By now there will be a stench."
John is the only Evangelist who tells us this miracle of the raising of Lazarus and it comes just before Jesus' Palm Sunday entrance to Jerusalem. This story is part of the “Book of Signs” (John 2:1-12:50), a collection of miracles which John uses to show that Jesus is the Messiah. This event is the introduction to Jesus' own death and resurrection. The story comes with many significant details. When Jesus is told about Lazarus’ illness he does not go to keep Lazarus from dying. Rather, he waits until Lazarus dies, so Jesus can show his mastery over death. His disciples advice Jesus not to return to Judea where the authorities are upset with him. Many Jewish people are in Bethany when Jesus arrives, so there will be witnesses to this miracle. Jesus' response to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die,” gives John the opportunity to have her acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah. Lazarus is not just sleeping, he has been dead four days and there will be a great stench if they open the tomb. When Lazarus comes out from the tomb, many of the Jews believed in Jesus.
The resurrection of Lazarus on this Sunday’s Gospel is a symbol of our baptism. Lazarus had died, and from the tomb he heard the words of Jesus: “Lazarus, come out!” We at one time were buried in our sins. In baptism Jesus called us by our name and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
On Easter Sunday we will renew our own baptism, as Saint Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also through his Spirit dwelling in you.”