Homily for the fifth Sunday of Lent

Year A  -  John 11:1...45


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"The sisters, Martha and Mary, 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 Laz'arus.  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 Laz'arus 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, "Laz'arus, 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, Martha and Mary, 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.' "

The illness, the death, and finally the resurrection of Lazarus constitute the culmination of the action of Jesus among his People!  It is the final step before the triumph of Palm Sunday and that of Good Friday.  It is the most manifest of all of Jesus' actions as he proceeds towards his glorification by his Father:  the Son of God demonstrates to all men that he came to earth to bring them the eternal life and the glory without end that has been in him from the beginning!

"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 wants to teach us the truth about the Resurrection.  And he uses Lazarusí death as a practical lesson to help us to better understand the great mystery that is life in Jesus.  Lazarus loved Jesus, and Jesus loved Lazarus:  when both were alive, they were one in love.  Now, Jesus, who is not only a man but is also, and first, God, was already resurrected, as man, in the upper extremities of his soul:  he was already seeing God his Father through the highest part of his soul, that part in which his humanity already discerned all the mystery of his divinity.  Also, he who is united to Jesus in faith and in love can already receive from him this beginning of the resurrection, if not in his body, then at least in his soul.  Therefore, if Jesus loved Lazarus, and Lazarus loved Jesus, it is indeed this beginning of the resurrection of Lazarusí soul that Jesus wanted to show to all his People by resurrecting Lazarus in his body.  However, as long as the final resurrection, that of the last day, of which Martha speaks, has not yet come, this beginning of the resurrection of Lazarusí body cannot be followed by its sequel, and this is why Lazarus died a second time.

"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.' "

Jesus prays to his Father, for he did not come to do his own will, but that of his Father.  However, Jesus doesn't pray to his Father as if he himself were unable to accomplish the miracle in question.  No.  Jesus can do all things by himself, for he is one God with his Father and the Holy Spirit.  That's why he said to his Father:  "I knew that thou hearest me always."  But Jesus is also a man, similar to the other men and women who surrounded him at that very moment.  It was therefore necessary for Jesus to set an example for them:  it was necessary for him to act like he who is the model to be imitated, he who is at the head of the immense body which is made up of the multitudes who believe in him.  Jesus is the first-born among many brethren (cf. Rm. 8:29) :  he is fully man, similar to other men.  And yet he accomplishes works which no man could ever achieve by himself:  he accomplishes divine works, he achieves the Work of God among men, in order that all may recognize him to be the messenger of God and believe in him.  "I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me."

"Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him."

Even if Jesus accomplished a great miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead, and if he thus accomplished the Work of God, there is an even greater miracle:  the Work of God manifests itself in a much more wonderful manner in the fact that the Jews who had come to visit Martha believed in Jesus, the Son of God!  For Jesus said:  "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." (Jn. 6:29)  And Jesus insisted on this with respect to Martha:  "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?"  And also:  "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"  Let us ask for this faith in the resurrection for ourselves!  May Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the Mother of us all, obtain for us the precious gift of faith in her Son!