Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent (A) – April 7, 2019
This Sunday, we will hear the poignant Gospel account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha and Mary, Lazarus’ sisters who believe and call Christ the Lord, are quite naturally pierced with grief over their brother. Even Christ, who knows that Lazarus will rise and live, is vulnerable to human emotion and weeps with sadness. We all have or will experience times in which, despite our faith, we are overcome with pain, anger, grief, or confusion, and want to say: ‘If you had been here, Lord, this wouldn’t have happened.’ Or, ‘How can this truly glorify you?’ We may intellectually trust that in God’s love all is redeemed, but in everyday life when times get tough, it can be hard to let a truth which we have already ascended to in our minds also enter into our hearts. In the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Constitution Eight tells us, “There is no failure the Lord’s love cannot reverse, no humiliation He cannot exchange for blessing, no anger He cannot dissolve, no routine He cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in victory. He has nothing but gifts to offer. It remains only for us to find how even the Cross can be borne as a gift.” Alongside the Gospel, these beautiful words invite us to enter deeply into the hope that our faith proclaims. They challenge us to trust in the Lord who alone can bring good from hardship, even in the times that seem most unbearable, unredeemable, or insurmountable. No one should be rushed through their grief. No one should be belittled for their pain. Even the stress that may arise within us at this point in the semester is not insignificant. Unfortunately, we are not always given a timeline for when these moments of grief, pain, or stress will be resolved and redeemed either. Yet Jesus, who knew pain and the need for hope, too, says to us in the midst of our own difficult moments, ‘turn to me, believe in me, and I will show you new life. You will see the glory of God.’ As we continue on our Lenten journey, may Christ’s loving Spirit help us keep our gaze and belief turned patiently to Him, no matter what comes our way.
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise." Martha said, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world." He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Sir, come and see." And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him." But some of them said, "Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?"So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "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."And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, "Untie him and let him go." Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
We remember truth once spoken, Love passed on through act and word. Every person lost and broken wears the body of our Lord, wears the body of our Lord.
Gentle Jesus, mighty Spirit, Come inflame our hearts anew. We may all your joy inherit, if we bear the Cross with you, if we bear the Cross with you.
Christ, you lead and we shall follow, Stumbling though our steps may be. One with you in joy and sorrow, we the river, you the sea, we the river, you the sea.