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Sunday Readings for Apr. 10, 2011 (5LentA)
By Fr. Orlando Sapuay
(Proverbs 17:17). Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters as dear friends and he often stayed in their home at Bethany. Why did Jesus delay in coming to Lazarus' side when he knew that his friend was gravely ill? This is because Jesus attributed Lazarus' sickness to the glory of God. The glory which Jesus had in mind, however, was connected with the cross. He saw the cross as his supreme glory and the way to glory in the kingdom of God. For Jesus there was no other way to glory except through the cross. Jesus knew that if he went to help Lazarus he would expose himself to grave danger from those in Jerusalem who were plotting his death. Jesus was willing to pay the price to help his friend. Are you ready to give help when it costs dearly?
Jesus' two day delay must have puzzled his disciples. But they were clearly startled and upset when Jesus did announce that he was going to Bethany, which is very close to Jerusalem. This looked like suicide since they knew the religious authorities were out to get rid of Jesus. For Jesus to come to Jerusalem at Passover time was an act of courage. The explanation which Jesus gave to his disciples was simple and challenging at the same time. "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" In so many words he said: "There are enough hours in the day to do what one must do."
A day can neither be rushed nor extended. Its period is fixed. In God's economy we each have our "day" whether it be short or long. While time is limited, there is enough for us to accomplish what God intends. God gives each of us our allotted portion in life. We can either waste it or use it to the utmost for God's glory. Jesus did not let circumstances or pressure dictate what he would do. Nor did he permit others to dictate his actions or timetable. He took action of his own initiative and in his good time. Don't we often try to get God to do things in our way and on our timetable?
Both the Romans and the Jews divided the day into twelve equal hours from sunrise to sunset. The day's work and travel, however, ceased when the daylight was gone. If someone wanted to get their day's work done, he had to do it before it got dark. Jesus made a spiritual analogy with our relationship with God. While the light of Christ is with us, we must live and walk in the truth and grace of his light. There's a right time to make peace with God, and that time is now. When darkness comes, then judgment follows for those who refuse God and spurn his love.
When Jesus announced that Lazarus was dead and that he was going to Jerusalem, Thomas showed remarkable courage. "Let us go, that we may die with him." This courage, however, was not tempered with faith and hope in God's promise to bring victory out of defeat. Even though Thomas was a witness to Lazarus' resurrection, he betrayed his master when arrest and death stared him in the face. He doubted his master's resurrection until Jesus showed him the wounds of his passion. God gives us faith, courage, and the strength we need to persevere through any trial and suffering we must face in this life. If we embrace our cross with faith and trust in God, then we, too, will see victory and glory.
What is the significance of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead? It is more than a miraculous event. It is a "sign" of God's promise to raise up all who have died in Christ to everlasting life. That is why Jesus asked Martha if she believed in the resurrection from the dead. The Christian creed, which is the profession of our faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and in the saving power of God, culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting. This is our faith and our hope. "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you" (Romans 8:11).
God gives us the power of his Holy Spirit that we may be made alive in Christ. Even now we can experience the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in our personal lives. The Holy Spirit is ever ready to change and transform us into men and women of faith, hope, and love. Do you believe that the power of Jesus' resurrection is at work in your life today? Let the Holy Spirit strengthen within you the life and joy of God and the hope of heaven.
The name Lazarus means "God is my help". Jesus' parable of the poor man Lazarus who died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:19-31), ends with a warning: "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead." Through Lazarus' sickness and subsequent death, God brought glory through Jesus his only begotten Son, who raised his friend from the dead in anticipation of his own death and resurrection.
Our participation in the Lord's Supper in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Jesus' transfiguration of our bodies. Irenaeus, a second century church father states: "Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection" (Adv. Haeres. 4,18). Psalm 27 ends with the great prayer of hope in the resurrection: I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord! Do you find joy and hope in the resurrection of Christ?
"Lord Jesus Christ, you have ransomed us with your blood and restored us to life with the Father in heaven. May your resurrection be our hope as we long for the day when we will see you face to face in glory."