Today, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we hear the astounding story of the resurrection of Lazarus. There is a marvelous amount of detail in this Gospel account! We learn so much about Jesus, his person, his mission, his compassionate heart.
Authentically Human. This narrative reveals Jesus’ genuine humanity. It shows his deep friendship with Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. His human emotions are revealed; the Gospel notes that he “was troubled in spirit, moved by the deepest emotions.” Then, “Jesus began to weep, which caused the Jews to remark, ‘See how much he loved him!’” Yes, Jesus wept! Indeed, Jesus is genuinely human, fully sharing our humanity!
Vatican II expressed the mystery of God-made-man in a beautiful, poetic way: “For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every person. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice, and loved with a human heart”. Though divine, Jesus was totally, fully, completely human.
Solidarity in Suffering. The Gospel tells us that when Lazarus fell ill, “the sisters sent word to Jesus to inform him, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’” Jesus departs for Bethany. He is met by Mary who says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would never have died.” Troubled in spirit, Jesus approaches the tomb of Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. He asks that the stone covering the tomb be removed. Then Jesus calls out loudly, “Lazarus, come out!” Suggestion: Allow your imagination to recreate this scene and reflect upon it!
Opening our Tombs. Pope Francis, reflecting on this Gospel passage, offers some profound insights. He notes: “Christ is not resigned to the tombs that we have built for ourselves with our choice for evil and death, with our errors, with our sins. He is not resigned to this! He invites us, almost orders us, to come out of the tomb in which our sins have buried us. He calls us insistently to come out of the darkness of that prison in which we are enclosed, content with a false, selfish and mediocre life.”
Francis continues: “It is an invitation to let ourselves be freed from the “bandages,” from the bandages of pride. For pride makes us slaves, slaves to ourselves, slaves to so many idols, so many things. Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey Jesus’ command by coming out into the light, into life…. Jesus’ act of raising Lazarus shows the extent to which the power of God’s grace can go…. There is no limit to the divine mercy offered to everyone!”
Imploring Mary’s Assistance. Pope Francis, concluding his “resurrection of Lazarus” reflection, turns to Mary. “May the Virgin Mary help us be compassionate like her son Jesus, who made our suffering his own.” Mary, assist us to become “a reflection of God’s love and tenderness.”
James H. Kroeger, M.M.
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Mary, Mother of Sorrow and
Mother of Mercy, turn your gaze upon me
Who struggle here below to be true to
The Way revealed by your Son
Through his life, teachings, Passion, Death
And glorious Resurrection.
Through his holy Incarnation he sanctified
All humanity, and by entering into
The human condition he revealed God’s Glory by weeping at the tomb
Of his friend, Lazarus, and calling him
Forth from the tomb to new life.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
That Jesus might call us from our tombs
Of persistent sins, addictions,
Cruelties and indifference. Extend your Blessed hands of mercy and unbind us
From the bonds of unhealthy habits.
Set us free to live life to the fullest
Unfettered and free, in Jesus’ name.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M
Photo: Maryknoll Sisters at Selma, March 7, 1965. (Photo courtesy of Maryknoll Mission Archives)