Homily for the fifth Sunday of Lent - Year A - Jn. 11:1...45
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" The sisters Mary and Martha sent to him, 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:
 
 
" 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.» "
 
We are two or three weeks before the death of Jesus. The event about to take place will be the direct cause of his death. That event is the resurrection of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, the brother of Martha and Mary. If Jesus had been there, as Martha wished he had, Lazarus would certainly not have been dead at that precise moment, and it would not have been his resurrection that would provoke the condemnation of Jesus by the clan of the Pharisees (cf. Jn. 11:53). If Jesus had been there a few days earlier, Lazarus would not have been dead: "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.» "
 
If Jesus allowed Lazarus to die, it was so that the Glory of God might be even more manifest: "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." (Jn. 11:4) What an incomprehensible mystery! Must someone die in order for God to be glorified? And yet, it is true... The death of Lazarus and his resurrection will lead to the death of Jesus and the glorification of the Father: "Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee!" (Jn. 17:1) The hour has come! Jesus awaited the death of Lazarus, for his own hour had not yet come. But once Lazarus died, the hour had come to manifest the resurrection and all of the power of the divinity that is in the Son of Man! "Father, the hour has come!"
 
" 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. "
 
The contrast could not be greater: Jesus has just spoken of his resurrection, and now he is weeping with his friends! On one hand, the omnipotence of God shines forth in these words: "I am the resurrection." On the other hand, the weakness and fragility of man can be seen in those sincere and tender tears. If Jesus does not show himself here to be true God and true Man, then what more could he have done? No, Jesus has truly declared, through the resurrection of Lazarus, that he is at once both God and Man. Moreover, the reaction of the Pharisees who condemned him to death is clear: this is the last straw... The Pharisees become enraged and, as they do not want to believe in Jesus, they condemn him: "From that day on they took counsel how to put him to death." (Jn. 11:53)
 
" 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.» "
 
"If you would believe you would see the glory of God." Martha and her sister Mary believed that Jesus would resurrect Lazarus, and thus they saw the glory of God. They saw the dead come back to life! But only for a while, since Lazarus would die a second time. This event is nonetheless very important for the faith of us all: it is a true, tangible proof of the divinity of Jesus, the son of Mary and of Joseph, carpenter of Nazareth, a man like you and me. Today, still, by our belief in this resurrection, the glory of God shines forth throughout the world! When this gospel is proclaimed in all the churches of the world, it is God who is glorified in his Son Jesus!
 
" Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him. "
 
If, during this Lent 2005, we have begun to truly believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, which is the pledge of our own resurrection at the end of time, then we will have rendered glory to God and won a great victory over ourselves, over the world and over the devil! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us with her maternal love!
 

To order the weekly homily immediately, click here