Scripture: Lectionary 34. Ezekiel 37:12-14. Psalm 130:1-2.3-4.5-6.7-8.
Romans 8:8-11. John 11:1-45
Personal encounters and relationships are central to John’s Gospel. This
Evangelist likes to develop stage scenes of two or three persons who are in
dialogue, conflict, or harmony with Jesus. From Mary at Cana, we can see
Nicodemus as the next individual person who continues elsewhere in the
Gospel of John. Then the Samaritan woman, the blind man, and now the
sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Today there are three important
persons who are centerstage : Jesus, Martha, and Mary.
The great revelatory statement that will reveal Jesus to his friends is the
signature “I AM” statements in this Gospel (ego eimi in the Greek). Jesus
is the Resurrection: I AM the Resurrection is what he tells Martha. This
is key to why John records this event of raising Lazarus from the dead.
Love is connected with Jesus in his relationships with Martha, with Mary,
and with Lazarus. Martha tells Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Jesus is described this way by the Evangelist: “Jesus loved Martha and her
sister and Lazarus very much.” Those friends who console Mary say about
Jesus after they see him weeping because of the death of Lazarus: “See how
much he loved him.” Jesus developed such love by his visits to Bethany to
those three friends. How often? We do not know, but certainly enough to
make the Gospel writer talk about his going there to be with them in good
times and in times when they needed him–like now!
The sisters are certainly examples for loving Jesus, but there role in this
story is exemplary in their faith and trust in who Jesus is beyond being a
friend. Martha speaks first, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would
never have died. Even now, I am sure God will give you whatever you ask of
Him.” When Mary leaves the home to find Jesus she too makes a faith
statement: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would never have died.”
Jesus is the Resurrection therefore something great can be hoped for as he
moves with the sisters and the mourners to the sight where Lazarus is
buried in a cave with a stone in front of it. The stone is removed and
after hearing Jesus’ voice (an act of faith on the part of the one who was
in the tomb) he comes forth and awaits for his bindings to be loosed and
the cloth removed from his face. He not only believes Jesus but actually
Jesus then reveals the following: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE:
whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and
whoever is alive and believes in me will never die.” The friendship of the
entire family is restored and the three of them together with Jesus must
have returned to Bethany where Jesus rested in their home.
Love and faith pervade the two parts of John–the Book of Signs in which
this scene takes place and then the Book of Love and Glory in which Jesus
reveals himself as totally human and totally divine. God is glorified in
the Word, the Son of God. God has power to give life, to take it away and
to restore it. Our other readings testify to God in Ezekiel’s resurrection
story–symbolic yet true in its transcendent meaning. Paul also speaks of
the resurrection and redemption through Jesus.
Our catechumens hear this message today and are reminded of their love and
belief in Jesus through the friendship of Jesus for Martha, Mary, and
Lazarus. They, the catechumens are illuminated by the light coming from
this Gospel and stirred in their faith and trust in Jesus and how could
they not love him who is the giver of eternal life? We join with them
again in renewing our own baptismal promises. Amen.