Sunday, April 10, 2011
Fifth Sunday in Lent—A
Three relatively short lines in today’s lengthy Gospel passage summarize and inspire our entire Christian life of faith. One is a proclamation by Jesus. The second is an act of Jesus. The third is an overwhelming display of Jesus’ power and compassion as the Son of God. The three lines are:
“I am the resurrection and the life.”Together, these lines contain a profound promise. Just as with the blind man in last week’s Gospel and the Samaritan woman the Sunday before that, Jesus’ friend Lazarus represents all of humanity. We are spiritually parched, unseeing, and dead. However, Jesus comes to meet us where we are—the well of shame, the darkness of doubt, and the tomb of isolation. He stands ready to relieve our thirst, give us sight, and bring us out of the depths of loneliness. He wants to liberate us from sin and death, and has the power to do so. As God tells Ezekiel in the first reading: “I have promised, and I will do it.”
“Lazarus, come out!”
Let us look again at the three lines above. In the first, Jesus proclaims that the life of the resurrection is not just a doctrine or a theory. It is a person—God himself made flesh. What Jesus proclaims here, he will do as the Paschal Mystery builds during Holy Week and climaxes on Easter Sunday. He IS the resurrection and the life.
In the second line, Jesus demonstrates his human solidarity with us. He shares our sorrows, our pain, and our death amid persistent doubt and confusion—but not only to console us. He weeps with us to embrace our human condition in a manner that promises us eternal life if only we die with his Spirit dwelling in us.
And in the final line, Jesus conquers sin and death. Ironically, this action will ultimately lead to his own death, but in a double-twist of irony, Lazarus’ rising prefigures the resurrection of Jesus—and ours with him. God has the last word.
As you listen to today’s Gospel or read it on your own, picture yourself as Lazarus in the tomb, bound in the burial cloths of sin and death. Imagine the stone being rolled away, light creeping in, and hearing Jesus’ voice outside calling to you:
You are untied, freed.
Do you believe this?