5th Sunday of Lent

Ezekiel 37: 12-14     Romans 8: 8-11     John 11: 1-45

jesus raises lazarusIn just two more weeks we will celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday.  On that day we will renew our Baptismal promises and celebrate the New Life which we have because of our commitment.  We are aware too that before the Resurrection comes the Cross on Good Friday.  Good Friday is the day when we commemorate the suffering and Death of the Lord.  In former times today, the 5th Sunday of Lent, was known as ‘Passion Sunday’.  On this day our minds might be brought to think of the sufferings of Jesus, apart from Calvary with which we might more easily identify.

When we think of the Passion what usually comes to our minds is the Cross, the Scourging, the Crown of Thorns, the Crucifixion – things beyond our imagination of pain and suffering. Our Scripture Readings over the last few Sundays, while dealing with the elements of Baptism, have underlined for us the real humanity of the Lord and his desire to identify with us in our human condition. 

Because Jesus was really thirsty he went to the Well for water and taught us about the ‘water of everlasting life’ in Baptism.  When Jesus encountered the ‘man born blind’ he used his own human spittle to give him sight and light.  The human condition displayed in today’s Gospel story is shared by Jesus too.  Again we observe Jesus with feelings and reactions which are part of our lives too.  He is tired after his long journey, he has apprehension at facing the situation of bereavement and he sighs from his heart at the thought of his friend being dead.  And then,  the most poignant moment of the Gospels – ‘Jesus wept’.

It seems that Jesus permits the death of Lazarus so that the significance of restoring him to life will be all the greater.  The death of Lazarus, then, is a necessary part of the Sign.  Just as the death of Jesus was a necessary part of God’s plan of redemption, death to sin is part of our Baptism. 

To celebrate Easter Sunday without mention of Good Friday would lead to a very unbalanced religion.  So, there is no shortcut to sanctity.  The glory of sharing in the Lord’s Resurrection involves the daily process of dying to sin and selfishness and enduring the slights and pains and failures of our condition.

Saint Paul understood well the rhythm of dying and rising with Christ; ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you’. (Romans 8:11)

We pray that at the renewal of our Baptismal promises the Water  may restore and refresh our lives, that the Light of Christ may shine more clearly in and through us and that our Faith will be strengthened by the Risen Lord.