Sunday 26 March 2023 – 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT         – IF YOU ARE LAZARUS …

1st Reading: Ezk 37:12-14

Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord. 

2nd Reading: Rom 8:8-11

Brothers and sisters: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.  

Gospel Jn 11:1-45

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed 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 is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he 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 a 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 is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”  When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “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. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”  When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell 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 had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”  So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”  Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him. 

Place your name in the position of Lazarus, name: Death befalls the rich and the poor, big and small, human and animal. Contrary to those for whom death is the end, in Christ, death becomes a celebration. It is entrance into Eternal Life. Ezekiel reminds us that in the grave, new life begins. St Paul states our belief that the God who raised Jesus will raise us into Eternal Life. The Lord says that those who believe in Him, though may die, they will live. We do not get Eternal Life after we die. That life should begin now. For that to happen, we are invited to believe in Jesus. In faith, we are united with Christ, the source of life. Today, Jesus calls Lazarus to leave the tomb. This is an invitation to come from death and to enter into a state that is alive; come from darkness into light. It is the voice of God that is the fountain of life. God desires that we have life in its fullness. John demonstrates to us how the God of Life calls us from the tombs/graves into a new life of the resurrection. This is a call to have a relationship with Him. We are free to accept or to refuse the invitation. Jesus loved Lazarus in the same way that e loves each of us. Lazarus represents we who are imprisoned in sin, and so are dead. Christ is the Ternal Light. He is outside the grave asking us to get out. Instead of the name Lazarus, put your name in its place, and listen to the invitation. Will I allow the Light of Christ to replace my feelings of despair, doubt, anxiety? When I am free, I shall embrace the hope that Christ grants each of us.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant us faith in you as our Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.


THE ONLY LORD OF LIFE: There are many myths and stories about death. Scholars and scientists have attempted, in vain, to understand and explain death. Despite all these efforts, death remains a mystery and a scare to many.  Even the best of Christians will at times fall into the temptation of visiting sorcerers in an attempt to escape death. Amidst all this scare and uncertainty, Jesus appears as the Lord of life and Master of death. Lazarus the brother of Mary and Martha had been in the tomb for four days, dead (Jn. 11:1-45). Jesus appears and amidst the disbelief and amazement of all present, he brings Lazarus back to life. This is an assurance that if we desire to live forever, we have no choice but to cling to Jesus, the Lord of life. This means to surrender totally to him and trust him fully.