Homily for the fifth Sunday of Lent - Year A - Jn. 11:1...45


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"The sisters Mary and Martha sent to Jesus, saying, 'Lord, he whom you love is ill.' But when Jesus heard it he said, 'This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.' Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, 'Let us go into Judea again.'


"Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.'


"Jesus said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept. 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, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.' Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, 'Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.' Jesus said to her, 'Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send 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 bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.' Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him."





Homily:


"The sisters Mary and Martha sent to Jesus, saying, 'Lord, he whom you love is ill.' But when Jesus heard it he said, 'This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.' Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, 'Let us go into Judea again.' "


Jesus is about to complete his earthly journey: soon, he will be delivered up by the chief priests and condemned to death, death on the Cross. Throughout his entire life, Jesus had only one concern: to save men for the Glory of his Father; for his own Glory, he who is the Image of the Father; and for the Glory of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love who rests upon him, the Servant and the Envoy of God!


Jesus is the Son of God made Man. He is God and Man. He is wholly devoted to the Glory of God and to the salvation of the world. He honors his Father, and he heals the sick men and women, both in their souls and in their bodies. Jesus is He who is close to God, for he is God, and he is the one who is close to men, for he is Man...


Jesus never stops loving his Father, who is in Heaven, while at the same time he loves the men and women he meets on his journey: Jesus has close and intimate friends with whom he shares what is told to him by the Father, his Father, the unique and thrice holy God whom he, Jesus, is for all eternity. "The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works." (Jn. 14:10)


Jesus has but one Love: a single, unique Love, for his Father and for us, for the men and women of every age. However, Jesus loves his Father first, and then men. For, if Jesus is equal to the Father as God, he is nonetheless in the service of the Father as man. "If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I." (Jn. 14:28)


Also, when Jesus performs a healing or a miracle, absolutely everything is ordained to the Glory of his Father first: it is, first and foremost, the Omnipotence of his Father which must be manifested to the entire world. Then, but with an equal Love, a Love full of tender mercy, Jesus turns his thoughts toward those poor people who wait for him to give them healing, or an even more wondrous miracle.


This is why Jesus wants to tell Martha and her sister that: "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it."


"Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.' "


"Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." This summarizes the full explanation for the coming of Jesus into the world! Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world to bring us the life that does not end! And this is fundamental! If we do not believe this firmly, more firmly than anything else, then we are not Christians! With neither hope nor faith in eternal life in Jesus Christ, there is no Christian: I would even say that there is no man at all...


Let us say with Martha: "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world." When the priest presents the Body of Christ before communion, let us firmly believe that we truly see before us, under the appearance of some bread, the Son of God, eternal Life in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world! "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die." (Jn. 6:50)


"Jesus said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept. 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, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.' Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, 'Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.' Jesus said to her, 'Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone."


This is truly one of the most moving passages of the gospel: Jesus weeps... Jesus, the Son of God, who can do anything and who knows all, is faced with the loss of one of his closest friends... Jesus is there, on this earth, among the men and women he came to save: he is one of them, feeling the same things they do... What am I saying? Jesus feels these emotions in a much stronger way than anyone else: for Jesus is man in perfection, and anything he feels as a man cannot be surpassed...


"And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send 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 bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.' Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him."


Jesus resurrects his friend Lazarus in order that those who are there, and also we who are alive today, might be amazed by the Love of God towards us: God loves us so much that he uses his Omnipotence to save us, first from eternal death, but also, in this case, for a certain period of time, from temporal death. For though Lazarus was resurrected at that time, he did, however, die once again later on...


But the Omnipotence of God demands that we believe in that Omnipotence in order that it might be able to act in us: God wants our cooperation in his work of salvation. Like the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who believed in the Omnipotence of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk. 1:35), we too should believe! So, for all eternity, with the Mother of God, we shall sing with one heart and with one soul: "He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name!"



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