SUNDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
READ: JOHN 11:1-45
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him saying, "Master, the one you love is ill." when Jesus heard this he said, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." He said this, and then told them, "Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him." So the disciples said to him, "Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved." But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, "Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him." So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go to die with him." When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the 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; but Mary sat at home. 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 to him, "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." When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, "The teacher is here and is asking for you." As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, 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.
Of all the readings in Scripture, this may be the reading that reveals to us best how Jesus is truly fully human and fully divine. We see Jesus as God through the miracle of the raising of Lazarus. Only God could do what He did. And for that reason, this miracle, which is the last and greatest of the miracles Jesus would perform, shows us that He is who He claims to be--the Christ, the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah.
But then, in great beauty, this passage speaks to us about Jesus' humanity. "Master, the one you love is ill." "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." "Our friend Lazarus is asleep." "And Jesus wept." These verses speak to us about human affection, friendship, and sorrow.
So often, we look at Jesus and think that because of His divinity, because He is God, He just doesn't understand us. But today's passage reminds us of the opposite. That He knows this life we live. He knows what it is like to be hungry, busy, exhausted. He knows what it is like to feel joy, pain, and as our reading tells us today, intense sorrow. He knows what it is like weep in the face of great loss. And He yearns to be the friend who comes to be with us in these things.
"Jesus is your friend. The Friend. With a human heart like yours. With loving eyes that wept for Lazarus. And he loves you as much as he loved Lazarus" (St. Josemaria Escriva). Today, let us bring our human hearts and whatever we are experiencing, whether great joy or great struggle, to Jesus, our friend. For He is "not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses" (Hebrews 4:15), but a God who understands our humanity, for He himself lived it. And He is the God who, in His humanity, wishes to sympathize with us and in His divinity, wants to heal, free, and resurrect us.
Why is it significant to you that Jesus is fully human and fully divine?
Do you sometimes feel that Jesus is unapproachable because of His divinity?
What comforts you about the reality that Jesus knows this life we live?
How does seeing Jesus as the Friend change how you relate to Him?
Where do you need Jesus' divinity, His power to give you life and free you from what is binding you?
R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication. If you, O LORD, mark iniquities, LORD, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered. I trust in the LORD; my soul trusts in his word. More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the LORD. For with the LORD is kindness and with him is plenteous redemption; And he will redeem Israel from all their iniquities. R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
What will you take from your prayer time today?
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