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5th Sunday of Lent, Year A – Homily

5th Sunday of Lent, Year A
Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45
April 2, 2017

Last week we heard the story of the man born blind and how Jesus gave him physical sight and then the man came to see Jesus as the Messiah.

Ezekiel speaks for the Lord, “I will open your graves and have you rise from them.”  As Christians we see this as speaking of the Resurrection but in the days of Ezekiel there was no real belief in the Resurrection.  To see this passage as the Israelites would have, we need to realize it was written during the Babylon Exile.  They would probably have interpreted its immediate fulfillment as when God set them free from the Babylonians and they returned to Jerusalem.  This would have been seen as the restoration of life in Israel.

In the days between Ezekiel and Jesus there was some development of the idea of resurrection but not strong belief in it.  Now, for us as Christians, resurrection is central to our faith.

When Jesus arrives after Lazarus dies, Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”  So, clearly Martha has a belief in the resurrection as some future event but doesn’t understand Jesus’ place in it.

Jesus knows this.  Jesus knows He will soon be crucified and that He will rise on the third day.  He has been trying to tell his disciples this but He knows they do not yet understand.  So, He uses Lazarus’ illness as a way to help them all understand.

Even with faith in the resurrection, death can be a terrible thing.  Without knowledge of the resurrection, death is final.

As Lazarus is dying, Martha and Mary send word to Jesus.  They have complete faith that Jesus could help.  They both say to Jesus, after Lazarus dies, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Yet, Jesus does not come for He knows, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God.

Ultimately, Jesus uses this as a teaching opportunity to show that He has power even over death.  Lazarus has been dead for four days by the time Jesus arrives at the tomb.  People are shocked when He tells them, “Take away the stone.”  Why could He possibly want to do that but they do as He says in faith.

Jesus “cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” and Lazarus comes out.  Now, this is not the “resurrection.”  This is resuscitation, the restoring of earthly life, but it clearly shows that Jesus has power even over death foreshadowing what will come in his own Resurrection.

Jesus had told Martha, “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.”

This can seem convoluted.  What is death?

When we think of “death” our thoughts most often turn to thoughts of end of life as we know it in this world.  This means the person is no longer with us.  It means they are separated from us.  Without faith in the resurrection, it means they are gone forever.

There is a death worse than physical death.  The death we really need to fear is death from sin.  Physical death means separation from our family and friends in this world.  Death from sin means we are eternally separated from God.

The reality is that physical death is natural.  We do not know when it will come, but it will come.  It is inevitable.  We might delay it but we cannot stop it.

Sin might seem inevitable.  On our own we struggle against temptation but there is a remedy from the death that comes from sin.  It comes on Good Friday when Jesus freely gives his life on the Cross so that our sins can be forgiven.  All we have to do to receive the remedy is to confess our sins and believe in Jesus as our Savior and redeemer.

Then we will have eternal life.

One Comment

  1. Maureen says:

    Thank You Father for your Explanation.
    As we are drawing closer to Good Friday & Resurrection Easter Sunday, it is always good to remind ourselves what Eternal Life is all about. It is even now in this Earthly World we can have Eternal Life by believing in the Divinity & Human Nature of Jesus Christ as stated for in John 3:16
    We know this is not easy but is necessary for us to believe (even at times we may not understand) and through God’s Grace He will give us the Power to overcome our struggles and challenges we face each day.
    Thank You Jesus for dying on the cross just to save our souls!
    We believe (with what we see with our eyes on Good Friday like St Thomas) and Apply our Faith in our Hearts so God alone knows.


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