Having a foretaste of Jesus’ own passion and death seems to be the theme of this Sunday’s readings, which talk of death, resurrection, and God’s forgiveness and mercy. We are being invited to reflect on Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life in today’s Gospel according to St. John, which recounts (another miracle) the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
As can be read from the earlier verses, we read the growing hatred of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus. People have been asking Him to declare that He is the Messiah, though Jesus have been telling them to look at His works (Jn. 10: 37) which testify to His coming from God. Only a few believe however, and some even tried to stone Him for blasphemy.
Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Thus when word was sent by the sisters that Lazarus was sick, Jesus said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” But Jesus extended their stay for two days, and when He announced their journey to Judea, the disciples feared for His life. Thomas even declared that he and the other disciples should go to die with Jesus.
At Bethany, what happened next is more intense, if not, a sad one. Martha went to meet him and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Yet she remained confident that God will grant whatever Jesus asks. Their conversation grew deeper until finally Martha said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” Martha’s sister, Mary, comes to Jesus with the same confidence, saying “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus was deeply troubled at the sight of Mary and the others weeping, and asked where they have laid him. They showed Him the way. “Jesus wept.” (Jn. 11: 35)
Before Jesus raised Lazarus, He prayed, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.”
In raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus shows His power over death so that when He dies on the Cross a couple of Fridays from now, we might remember Him with hope and trust. As in today’s First Reading, God’s promise through the prophet Ezekiel is fulfilled in Jesus opening the graves that we may rise, put His Spirit in us that we may live. (Ez. 37: 12-14) This is the same Holy Spirit that St. Paul refers of in today’s Epistle. (Rom. 8: 8-11)
As a result of the Lazarus miracle, many of the Jews who had come and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in Him.
As long as we believe in Jesus like Martha and Mary, even if we die, we will live.
May we therefore have the strength and courage to proclaim, “Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Son of God.”
“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” (Ps. 130: 7)