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Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent (Third Scrutiny, Cycle A)

Fifth Sunday of Lent Third Scrutiny, Cycle A

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

Saint John Baptist de LaSalle March 17, 2024

 

"Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was ill, Jesus remained for two days in the place where he was.” Don’t you find this to be a rather strange sentence? Let me repeat it in my own words. "So, when Jesus learned that his good friend Lazarus was sick, Jesus remained for two more days in the place where he was." Yes, very mysterious. You would kind of think that if Jesus really loved these three people, if Jesus was really their best friend, then Jesus would have gone to them right away. Don’t our best friends come, right away, when we call them? Otherwise, they don’t remain our best friend for very long.

 

Jesus could have gone and brought comfort to the two sisters even if he had intended to allow Lazarus to die. Now we believe, like Martha did, that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. But we also believe, like Martha did, that if Jesus had been there her brother would not have died. We, like Martha, expect that God will give us what we ask, and be there when we call. So why does this response by Jesus seem so strange to us. Well, here is the rest of the story. It is only when we hear this Gospel, in its entirety, is the meaning of why Jesus did not come right away revealed. Jesus waited for the death of Lazarus, to reveal to those he loved, the glory of God. Yes, the glory of God shown through the raising of Lazarus from death.

 

“This illness does not end in death,” Jesus tells his followers. No, this illness is for the glory of God, and, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Several years ago, they made a movie called ‘The Apostle.’ It starred Robert Duvall and it was a pretty good film. Duvall’s character, of a wandering Baptist preacher, comes upon a priest in flowing vestments, altar servers, and a cross. The priest is on the dock, blessing the fishing vessels as they sail out to sea. Duvall watches and then says, ‘You do it your way and I’ll do it my way. But, it's all for Jesus’ Yes, it's all for Jesus. It's all for God’s glory. But, you know, it doesn’t always seem so.

 

And that’s because we live such mysterious lives. So many things seem like they should never happen to us if Jesus really loved us. We are angered when we see other people suffering. We are hurt, sometimes to the core, when a loved one becomes sick. And death? I believe there are no words to describe how we feel when someone close to us dies. Not only are the sisters of Lazarus deeply saddened by the death of their brother, but also many of their neighbors had gathered to comfort them. Only the presence of Jesus brings them peace. "I know that my brother will rise, in the resurrection on the last day," Martha tells Jesus. "Yes, your brother will rise," Jesus tells Martha and all of us.

 

Have you ever seen the glory of God revealed in someone’s suffering? Some of us have. Even if we have not noticed we believe that God’s glory will be revealed in those sufferings even though they remain a mystery. Remember what Jesus told Martha, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" "Do you believe this," Jesus asks each of us? Do you believe that Jesus has overcome death? Do you believe that Jesus can bring freedom to us and free us from sin? Do you believe that Jesus can bring hope in place of despair? If you do believe, then know that you can entrust to Jesus every area of your life that needs healing. Jesus has the power to raise up and bring life, even to something that seems dead and decaying. Even in the most hopeless of situations, Jesus can penetrate the darkness and free us from all that binds us. All Jesus asks is that we proclaim with Martha, "Yes Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God." All Jesus asks is that we come out of our graves for the glory of God.

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