March 29, 2020 5th Sunday of Lent - John 11: 1 – 45.
1-16: There was a man named Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister, Martha, and he was ill. It was the same Mary, the sister of the sick man Lazarus, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair. The sisters sent this message to Jesus: 'Lord, the man you love is ill.' On receiving the message, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death, but it is for God's glory so that through it the Son of God may be glorified.' Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when He heard that he was ill He stayed where He was for two more days before saying to the disciples, 'Let us go back to Judaea.' The disciples said, 'Rabbi, it is not long since the Jews were trying to stone You; are You going back there again?' Jesus replied, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? No one who walks in the daytime stumbles, having the light of this world to see by; anyone who walks around at night stumbles, having no light as a guide.’ He said that and then added, 'Our friend Lazarus is at rest; I am going to wake him.' The disciples said to Him, 'Lord, if he is at rest he will be saved.' Jesus was speaking of the death of Lazarus, but they thought that by 'rest' he meant 'sleep'; so Jesus put it plainly, 'Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe. But let us go to him.' Then Thomas - known as the Twin - said to the other disciples, 'Let us also go to die with Him.'
17-31: On arriving, Jesus found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days already. Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming she went to meet Him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died, but even now I know that God will grant whatever You ask of Him.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said, 'I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said, ‘ I am the resurrection. Anyone who believes in Me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 'Yes, Lord,' she said, 'I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.' When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in a low voice, 'The Master is here and wants to see you.' Hearing this, Mary got up quickly and went to Him. Jesus had not yet come into the village; He was still at the place where Martha had met Him. When the Jews who were in the house comforting Mary saw her get up so quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
32-45: Mary went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw Him she threw herself at His feet, saying, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.' At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who had come with her, Jesus was greatly distressed, and with a profound sigh He said, 'Where have you put him?' They said, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept; and the Jews said, 'See how much He loved him!' But there were some who remarked, 'He opened the eyes of the blind man. Could he not have prevented this man's death?' Sighing again, Jesus reached the tomb: it was a cave with a stone to close the opening. Jesus said, 'Take the stone away.' Martha, the dead man's sister, said to Him, 'Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day since he died.' Jesus replied, 'Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?' So they took the stone away. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘ Father, I thank You for hearing my prayer. I myself knew that You hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around Me, so that they may believe it was You who sent Me. When He had said this, He cried in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with strips of material, and a cloth over his face. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, let him go free.' Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what he did, believed in Him.
If a true "friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17), why did Jesus delay in coming to Lazarus' home when he knew that his friend was gravely ill? Jesus certainly loved Lazarus and his two sisters and he often stayed in their home at Bethany. But to the surprise of his friends and disciples, Jesus did not go right away to Bethany when he was called. Jesus explained that Lazarus' sickness would bring glory to God. The glory which Jesus had in mind, however, was connected with suffering and 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 also knew that it was dangerous for him to travel anywhere near Jerusalem at this time, since the religious authorities in Jerusalem were plotting his destruction. Jesus, however, was willing to pay the price to help his friend. 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 both his courage and pessimism. "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 in the end.
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 about 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 someone should rise from the dead." Through Lazarus' sickness and subsequent death, God brought glory through his Son the Lord Jesus, 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 Jesus 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."
1. For the Church, our Diocese and our Parish, we pray to the Lord.
2. For peace and protection for all life, pray to the Lord.
3. For victims and survivors of violence and natural disasters, we pray to the Lord.
4. For sick and homebound and all who care for them, we pray to the Lord.
5. For deceased and for all who mourn them, we pray to the Lord.
6. For the intentions written in our Parish Book of Intentions, and those we hold in the silence of our hearts, we pray to the Lord.
7. For medical staff and victims and survivors of corona virus, we pray to the Lord.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, mother of God and of the people of Metuchen you always shine on our path as a sign of salvation and hope. We rely on you, Health of the Sick, you who, at the cross, united with Jesus’ pain, keeping steadfast your faith. You, Salvation of God’s people, you know what we need and we are sure that you will provide for us, as at Cana of Galilee, after the adversity of these days, may joy and celebration return. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do what we are told by Jesus, who has taken our suffering upon Himself and has burdened Himself with our sorrows to lead us through the cross, to the joy of resurrection. Amen.
Under your protection, Holy Mother of God, Our Lady of Guadalupe, we seek refuge, hear our prayer and intercede for us to the Father so that we may be free from every danger, Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Despite the suspension of public Masses, a private Mass will be celebrated daily at 7 AM in the Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi and can be viewed at that time on their website: www.stfranciscathedral.org.
Since you cannot at this moment receive Our Lord sacramentally, pray that at least spiritually Christ himself will enter into your heart:
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love you above all things and I desire to receive you in my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally, Come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you.
Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.