Sunday, March 29, 2020
+ 5th Lent A +
By raising Lazarus, Jesus knowingly embraces his passion and all that will happen to him and to us who dare to follow.
It is the last straw for the authorities. In the next verses, Caiaphas says it is better that one man die than that the whole nation be destroyed. John comments:
He did not speak in his own person. It was as high priest that he made this prophecy
that Jesus was to die for the nation—and not for the nation only but
to gather together in unity the scattered children of God.
Four words in today’s gospel help us understand. Glory: “This sickness will not to end in death, but in God’s glory.”
God will transform our sufferings. Our wounds, traumas, fears, addictions, anxieties, illnesses, even our dying remain. Though now, like his glorious, risen wounds, God’s healing compassion for humanity can stream through them.
Lamentation. Martha and Mary lament, “Where were you? How could you let this happen?” because they believe. Giving voice to anguish is not doubt. It is profound prayer.
Crying out in incomprehension and sorrow opens the path to the mercy and fidelity of God. “Why have you forsaken me?” opens the path to “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Jesus comforts Martha and Mary by weeping with them. He almost begs us to believe in his Father’s love in the face of anything that happens in this world: “Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”
Dying: The dying and rising of Lazarus to live in this world is like our Baptisms. Eternal love frees us from an enslaving fear of death and suffering. It frees us for a life of service. Risks can be taken.
Our lives need not be bound by suspicion and hoarding. As Henri Amiel said, “Self-interest is but the survival of the animal in us. Humanity only begins for us with self-surrender.”
We are watching it every day. From the few, pathogenic lies and pandemic hubris.
From the many, from governor and archbishop, sharing difficult facts, heroic dedication to the vulnerable, and speaking with competence and empathy.
Burning compassion: “Troubled in spirit, moved by the deepest emotion,” Jesus revels the compassion of God for what we have to go through in this world: “Lazarus come out!”
We were not created for survival of the fittest and beating our chests, and death—for ventilators to the highest bidder and it is good that granny die for the good of the economy.
“I am the resurrection and the life.” Lazarus comes from the tomb, still bound to die, but freed from death. Soon they will be out to arrest him. There will be more tears for Martha and Mary—and us.
But Lazarus and his sisters, disciples through the ages, every one of us, will live with calm joy and clear-eyed hope.
He made this prophecy that Jesus was to die for the nation
—and not for the nation only,
but to gather together in unity the scattered children of God.