for Sunday, April 2, 2017
It is God who gives life and restores life. For the past two Sundays, we have heard Jesus tell us: I am the Messiah and I am the Son of Man. Today Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead - only God can do this. So we are drawn deeper and deeper in this time of Lent to place all our hope in God and to know that Jesus is God. When we believe that Jesus is God, all our life changes.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Ezekiel and tells of God's promise to raise up the people of Israel: "I will put my spirit in you that you may live." God gives physical life, but more importantly, God gives the life of Spirit. God promises to give us His Spirit. Only with that Spirit can we truly live. We may be misunderstood by others, but we live. We may seem crazy in our beliefs in this God who loves us, but we live.
The second reading today comes from the Letter to the Romans and repeats this same teaching that we have just heard from the Prophet Ezekiel: "You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." Today's readings continue to insist that we learn to live in the Spirit and that only the Spirit gives true life.
The Gospel today, from Saint John, tells of the illness and death of Lazarus. This account also gives us the reactions of Martha and Mary. Martha is always busy and trying to get things straightened out and Mary is at home, but also has her plans. Lazarus is dead!
Jesus teaches about the Resurrection but no one is yet ready to hear Him. They want Lazarus alive now. Thinking about someone living after death is not the same as thinking of someone living right now. We know, of course, that life after death is actually more important than this life, but that the only way to live forever, after death, is how we live this life. The woman at the well two weeks ago and the man born blind last week both heard Jesus tell them: I am the Messiah, I am the Son of Man. Jesus, now, simply raises Lazarus from the dead, after three days in the tomb. No one who was there could doubt that Jesus raised Lazarus - but of course many looked for other explanations.
The challenge of Lent for all of us was stated on the First Sunday of Lent: Repent and believe in the Good News! We are invited to repent of our sins because we believe in the Good News that Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Messiah, Jesus is Savior, Jesus is the Son of Man and Jesus raises the dead to life.
Once we believe, our whole life changes. Come, Lord Jesus.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Ezekiel 37.12-14
Second Reading: Romans 8.8-11
Gospel: John 11.1-45
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: